Is Garcia-Lomachenko the Next Barrera-Hamed?

By Paul Magno on January 5, 2018
Is Garcia-Lomachenko the Next Barrera-Hamed?
Lomachenko has the ability to crank things up and put on a boxing clinic against Garcia.

WBC lightweight champ Mikey Garcia may be the only soul in Lomachenko’s weight range capable of not only handling, but flat-out beating him…

Back in 2001, Marco Antonio Barrera went up against “Prince” Naseem Hamed in a highly-anticipated featherweight clash of opposites. The match-up pitted Barrera, the stoic, no-nonsense, fundamentally-precise warrior from Mexico City against the flashy, brash Hamed, who was pretty much the antithesis of everything Barrera aspired to be.

For five years prior to meeting Barrera, Hamed’s herky-jerky, wildly unorthodox style and heavy hands had been opening eyes and creating a subculture of die-hard true believers in the media and among fans. And, admittedly, it was hard not to hop on the Hamed bandwagon after watching the boisterous Brit tear through solid, durable guys like Manuel Medina, Tom Johnson, Wayne McCullough, and Kevin Kelley. Barrera, on the other hand, was just three fights and one year removed from a loss to Erik Morales and a look back would show two humbling defeats to Junior Jones while Hamed was just beginning his ascent to the boxing main stage.

The 3-to-1 odds against Barrera were to be expected, considering the positive buzz Hamed was receiving from the masses. Hamed was painted as the unstoppable force, doing things in a way that had never been done before whereas Barrera was “just” a very good fighter with impeccable fundamentals. How could anyone handle a guy like Hamed?

Well, Barrera not only handled Hamed, but he downright dominated him over twelve one-sided rounds. And it really didn’t take all that much—just solid fundamental boxing and an ability to stay patient and focused in the face of Hamed’s jarring, off-putting style. By the end of the evening, it was pretty clear that the textbook on beating Hamed had been written and that it would just be a matter of time before the “Prince” would be forced from his boxing kingdom. Actually, Hamed would go on to fight only one more post-Barrera bout before retiring.

Fast forward to 2018.

Ukraine’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko is lighting things up, running through solid opposition, making quality fighters quit on their stools rather than face another round of indecipherable movement and lightning fast hands. Like there was around Hamed 16 years earlier, a cult of worship has sprung up around Lomachenko. Media and fans have rushed to place him atop pound-for-pound rankings and have even begun to mention him in lofty, all-time great company alongside legends such as Henry Armstrong.

Although Lomachenko is an all-around better fighter than a prime Hamed with a much greater skill set and long-term up side, the two have a lot in common. Aside from the massive hype generated around both, they also benefit from executing a wildly unorthodox style in weight classes packed with supremely orthodox Latino and Asian fighters. The awkward task of dealing with someone wailing away on an improvised Coltrane sax solo with ears trained to only hear marching band music is beyond frustrating. It’s something none of these fighters have ever had to deal with. They may as well be fighting an extraterrestrial.

One division to the north, though, is WBC lightweight champ Mikey Garcia—a fighter who just may be the only soul in Lomachenko’s weight range capable of not only handling, but flat-out beating him.

Sadly, boxing business may prevent the bout from being made. Garcia just severed ties with Lomachenko’s promoter, Bob Arum and will be testing the waters at junior welterweight this February for the second straight time. Despite Garcia’s stated desire to return to 135 after his upcoming run at Sergey Lipinets’ IBF 140 lb. belt, he could just as easily decide that the heavier weight is his more comfortable weight, thereby putting two divisions between him and Lomachenko. There’s also the idea that Team Lomachenko may be quite happy staying put at 130, where the road to stardom and easy paydays is a lot less complicated.

But what if Vasyl Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia DID meet?

It would probably play out a lot like Barrera-Hamed.

Hamed was no Lomachenko and Garcia is no Barrera, but the boxing physics for both fights are the same.

Garcia, with his focus, patience, and solid fundamental base would be less likely to fall for the distraction of Lomachenko’s hyper movement and odd delivery angles. Like Barrera dealing with Hamed, a Garcia, unlikely to be juked out of position, would come straight up the middle on Lomachenko, pushing before being pushed and not allowing his opponent room to improvise. Garcia’s height and length would also give him the physical edge needed to touch Lomachenko like nobody has been able to touch him before.

If Garcia holds his ground, keeps his focus, and doesn’t allow himself to be thrown off by Lomachenko’s various distractions and angles, Lomachenko will be forced to box the “hard way,” the more orthodox way—and that is something he can do quite expertly as well. But with his “hocus pocus” stripped from him and only his skill and athleticism remaining, Lomachenko becomes just a regular, albeit still elite-level, fighter, facing someone just as skilled, just as talented, but larger and physically stronger.

Back in 2014, a battle-weary and nearly shot Orlando Salido, with a mixed bag of fouls, thuggery, and old-school trickery, managed to take Lomachenko’s magic away for the entirety of their fight. The Olympic hero, forced to fight in a more orthodox manner, closed big against his rough Mexican rival, nearly ending the fight before Salido could run out the clock and get the split decision win. Vasyl is THAT good—able to handle 90% (or more) of the opposition out there, even when stripped of what makes him truly special.

But Garcia has everything necessary to do to Lomachenko what Salido did to him in 2014, at least in terms of making him slow down and fight a step-by-step conventional fight. And he can do it organically, without the grey-shaded, back alley stuff.

And, yeah, Lomachenko has the ability to crank things up and put on a boxing clinic against Garcia. History tells us, though, that skill, timing, and focus tend to almost always trump speed and sleight of hand. Like a patient hitter in baseball waiting on a junk ball pitcher to get behind in the count and come to the plate with something hittable, a smart fighter will see through distracting movement and general razzle-dazzle to meet his target.

Barrera-Hamed is not exactly a perfect stylistic match to Garcia-Lomachenko, but the principles are basically the same. Deny the unorthodox whirlwind free reign, keep him honest, don’t buy into his distractions, and come straight up the middle.

The above task may be impossible for all but one fighter in Lomachenko’s weight range, so fans of the mega-talented boxer shouldn’t see this as a knock on him or his ability. Mikey Garcia just happens be that one guy who could shut down the entire Lomachenko business.

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Marco Antonio Barrera vs Prince Naseem Hamed

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  1. Your Name 12:23pm, 01/15/2018

    I dont know what happened to the old fellas either.

    Im only 31,been to a couple shows,watched the rest on tv

    There were a few guys here that really lived it.theres probably a post somewhere, with some sort of farewell.they were the kind of guys that would do that sort of thing.

  2. Buster 10:46pm, 01/07/2018

    Hey Andre, the old school great posters probably left because they got fed up with sharing this space with know nothing nitwits like yourself.

  3. Andre Roussimoff 02:57pm, 01/07/2018

    @Your Name-Nothing more boring than an attaboy mutual admiration club for boxing writers! Or know it all posters that seem to think that whatever the fuk they pontificate about is the final word!

  4. Your Name 12:07am, 01/07/2018

    what happened to all the great posters here..did some of them die? I know there were some old school guys posting here.

    seems dead without them.come on posters…make a name for yourself.

    its not for me to do.

    dont be a half ass newcomer. those old school guys went knew where they stood.

  5. Your Name 04:42pm, 01/06/2018

    One other comment; how in the hell can you compare Hamed and Loma? Loma would box rings around Hamed.

  6. Your Name 04:40pm, 01/06/2018

    Love Mikie but he won’t touch Loma.

  7. Andre Roussimoff 11:19am, 01/06/2018

    Kinda’ like Carlos Morales with the help of the ref lobbying the ringside doctor to close it out when Zenunaj finally started to get it in gear! Morales sealed the deal by saying those magic words “I can’t see” which are almost as good as “I’m seeing two of the guy” in order to get the gate!

  8. Andre Roussimoff 01:27pm, 01/05/2018

    Mikey Garcia pulled the same shit with Salido that Jesse James Leija pulled with Micky Ward….with Larry Cole’s help of course… difference….none! Not to worry we’ll find someone to beat Loma….like the next time he’s in a close fight and the opponent actually fights back….he’ll get the same treatment that GGG got! Memo to GGG: Next time out don’t wait until the fourth round to start fighting because no close rounds will be scored for you….none!

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