The Lomachenko Experiment

By Robert Ecksel on June 21, 2014
The Lomachenko Experiment
Russell, despite his pristine record, hasn’t fought anyone of note. (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

The Lomachenko Experiment has not gone as planned. The two-time Olympic gold medalist from Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine, signed with Top Rank before officially turning pro last year. Things started off right with a fourth round KO over fringe contender Jose Ramirez (25-3) in October. But five months later, in what many regard as a candidate for Miscalculation of the Year, Lomachenko was matched with the always unpredictable Orlando Salido (40-12-2) at the Alamodome in San Antonio for the vacant WBO featherweight title.

Lomachenko lost that fight by split decision. One can chalk it up as a learning experience. But in an era where a perfect record, even a perfect record against handpicked opposition, means big bucks, it was a big setback, a setback he hopes to reverse tonight when he meets undefeated Gary Russell Jr. (24-0) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

“I haven’t seen all the fights, and I didn’t see all his opponents,” said Lomachenko, “but as far as I saw I can probably compare a few guys who were close to Jose Ramirez, but I’ve never seen any of them being as far as Salido. I got a very good lesson in that fight. That one fight gave me the impression and feel of what it is to be a professional boxer. Just fighting the 12 rounds with Orlando Salido I got to experience more than if I would be fighting just regular level guys for two years.”

Russell, despite his pristine record, hasn’t fought anyone of note, nor has he fought anyone the caliber of Salido. But what many see as a drawback, the southpaw from the nation’s capital considers an advantage.

“My team and I had a game plan when turning professional,” Russell said. “We wanted to get the rounds in. We wanted to learn the ins and outs as a professional before we competed for a world title. We had a minor hiccup here and there, but other than that we stayed on course and we’re right on track.”

Lomachenko said Russell is “very strong and very fast. He’s not just a regular fighter. I know he has very good speed. He’s much quicker than I am. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with his speed until I get in there with him. I faced some fast boxers in the amateurs but it was only for three rounds and I just did what I had to do to beat them.”

Lomachenko is still a prospect, or as Russell suggests, nothing but a glorified amateur.

“I want to expose this guy, and hopefully he will understand the importance of taking your time as a professional. You can be an elite amateur, but when you become a professional it’s a completely different world. Lomachenko is still an amateur. His experience with Salido proved that he’s still very amateurish. He can’t handle pressure, he doesn’t have a lot of power, and he doesn’t throw enough, although he is accurate. But he can be outworked, and he doesn’t have the ability to box with me from the outside because I’m too fast for him.

“If he tries to make it a tough fight and comes right at me fans will see a side of me they’ve never seen before.”

Lomachenko vs. Russell will be broadcast live Saturday night on a Showtime tripleheader, preceding Robert Guerrero returning to action after a long layoff against Yoshihiro Kamegai, and Devon Alexander boxing circles around Jesus Soto Karass.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. Clarence George 01:58pm, 06/21/2014

    These guys are sorta like Jack Sprat and his wife, except that it’s not a matter of fat and lean, but of one taking his first swim in the Marianas Trench and the other unable or unwilling to progress beyond the kiddie pool.

  2. Koolz 11:10am, 06/21/2014

    Russell is not at Lomachenko’s level.

  3. Clarence George 09:41am, 06/21/2014

    I think you’re absolutely right, Irish.  I, too, don’t approve of Lomachenko’s “American Idol” approach to making his way, and I think he’ll regret it.  That said, Russell is the most protected featherweight around…maybe the most protected boxer, regardless of division, and that includes heavyweight Deontay Wilder.

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:15am, 06/21/2014

    Russell’s scouting report is right on…..he’s no Kovalev or GGG in the power department…...there are too many brutes in the Pros (see Salido) who could give a shit less about your sterling amateur laurels…... highly motivated brutes that feel insulted that someone with a pair of fights would be a heavy, odds on favorite to kick their hardened and grizzled asses (see Salido again) .....what’s the hurry anyway?

  5. Matt McGrain 06:25am, 06/21/2014

    Yeah, it’s two greenies really.

  6. Clarence George 05:50am, 06/21/2014

    I may be all alone on this, but I wouldn’t be unduly surprised by a draw.

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