Vasyl Lomachenko was good, very good, but not quite good enough

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Lomachenko Comes Up Short Against Rugged, Overweight Orlando Salido:

At the end of January, I penned an editorial questioning whether featherweight prospect Vasyl Lomachenko was coming up too fast in challenging for a world title in only his second pro fight. In my skepticism, I was virtually alone, and not just on ProBoxing Fans. I couldn’t find a boxing writer anywhere willing to cast doubt on Lomachenko’s ability to beat Orlando Salido and take his title.

As it turned out, the majority’s faith in Lomachenko was almost as justified as my conservatism. Orlando Salido lost his world title before even climbing through the ring ropes due to his failure to make weight, and I think it would be fair to say the weight issue had a serious impact on the outcome of the fight.

Salido weighed 128.5 pounds on the scale, and came in on fight night at 147 lbs. Salido was the bigger man by a clear measure, and he was not drained by struggling to lose another 2.5 pounds. Call Salido unprofessional or dirty if you will, but the veteran decided winning the fight was worth more to him than the belt was, and he made the call that gave him a critical edge in the bout.

Even so, the smaller Lomachenko very nearly pulled it off. His crisp combinations and smooth, controlled aggression gained him a lot of traction, but Salido responded by playing a rough, physical game amped up with a punishing body attack and frequent low blows. Despite a referee that let Salido hit Lomachenko over and over on the belt, thigh, hip, and gonads; despite the unfamiliar brawling; and despite fighting a bigger opponent, Lomachenko still had plenty of gas left at the end of the fight and nearly took Salido down in the 12th.

The bottom line is that Lomachenko very nearly pulled it off. I think the Split Decision call for Salido was generally fair, but I wouldn’t have complained over a Draw either. The main thing is that I do not think Lomachenko won the fight. If anyone did, it was Orlando Salido, even if he did it down and dirty.

That Salido was able to win by being the grittier, dirtier fighter gets back to what my skepticism of Lomchenko’s shockingly early challenge of Salido was based on: experience. If Lomachenko had spent the next year tackling two or three fringe contenders, he would have spanked a guy like Orlando Salido. The Ukrainian has all the stuff to be a great champion, and he is already a solid 126 lbs contender. All he needs is a little seasoning, and that was the real lesson learned this weekend.

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