The Lomachenko Model

By Timothy Seaver on June 15, 2016
The Lomachenko Model
Lomachenko has chosen to face men who would look good on any veteran’s record.

To deem him great at this point is equivalent to Muhammad Ali claiming himself the greatest without first defeating Sonny Liston…

Ukrainian sensation, Vasyl Lomachenko is establishing a new model for an ancient sport. On Saturday night, the former two-time Olympian dismantled the well-respected, Roman Martinez to capture the WBO belt in the super featherweight division. He is now a two-division champion in only his seventh fight. The victory was built upon four rounds of strategic dominance and was secured with a memorable combination of a left uppercut and right hook from a southpaw stance. Martinez collapsed to the canvas and lay there as the ref waved signaled the end of the match. 

The model that Lomachenko is establishing is not based on his superlative skills and dynamic performances. The model has to do with his record. It rests on who he has chosen to fight at the very early stage of his career. He is 6-1 with four knockouts. The kind of people he has faced are the type who most boxers don’t meet until they’ve already vanquished scores of steppingstone-foes. While most fighters emerging from an impressive amateur career will streak to an undefeated record of twenty or more fights against men who have no chance of victory, Lomachenko has chosen to face men who would look good on any veteran’s record. His opponents have a combined record of 221 wins, 24 losses, and 8 draws. By contrast, the opponents of Sugar Ray Leonard at the same point of his career had combined records of 97 / 48 / 8. For Rocky Marciano’s completion the numbers were 31/8/1. And for Muhammad Ali it was 123 / 42 / 5.

A murderous rage just filled the heads of boxing fans over the age of fifty believing these stats are meant to elevate Lomachenko to the same stratosphere as Leonard, Marciano, and Ali (of course if you’ve ever talked to a fan of old-time boxing you know that no modern fighter could ever possibly be better than anyone from the past). But the old-time fans can relax. The comparison is not meant to claim that Lomachenko is already on par with those great men. The comparison merely illustrates how seriously he is taking his career from the very start.

Everything about him suggests he want to prove himself and has little interest in wasting his time with an opponent unworthy to share the same ring with him. Following his flawless performance on Saturday night, the quickly rising star, expressed frustration at the difficulty in acquiring fights against elite competition. Through his translator he intimated that he needed more fights. A suggestion that the current model followed by most boxers of two or three fights a year is not enough for him. He also lamented the difference between the amateur and professional systems. In Olympic boxing, where Lomachenko excelled, the best must face the best. In the pros, careers are built around fighters avoiding dangerous opponents to protect their glossy record. It may be the only sport where the amateurs have higher standards than the professionals.

In interviews with the HBO staff he has demurred at the suggestion that he may be one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world. Naturally, Lomachenko wants to be seen as the best, but he does not want the praise to precede the accomplishment. Herein lays the difference between the two major ways greatness is generally measured.

One way says to just look at what happens in the ring regardless of the opponent; marvel at the speed, power, and skill of the dominate man. The other says look at the résumé—what great adversary has the fighter actually defeated? Lomachenko’s goal looks beyond the first measure and seeks recognition in the latter. He wants to face the best, and is dissatisfied with anything below that. To deem him great at this point is equivalent to Muhammad Ali claiming himself the greatest without first defeating Sonny Liston.

Of course, it does appear that he has all the tools to reach the highest levels of the sport. Like Floyd Mayweather, the man who had held the title of pound-for-pound best for over a decade, Lomachenko has a combination of natural physical talent and cultivated skill wrought by focus and ceaseless devotion. When these two elements mix the result grows beyond the usual measure of greatness. Elite natural ability and supreme dedication to the craft is the stuff of Mozart.

The Lomachenko model is based on more than just ever-increasing paychecks. It is rooted in the desire to prove that he is the best. He has the confidence to attempt profound things, and perhaps all the tools that are necessary to make those things come true. He might not reach the level of Mozart or Mayweather, but the sport is better off that he is at least willing to try.

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Full fight HD Vasyl Lomachenko vs Román Rocky Martínez 11 06 2016

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  1. Eric 11:45am, 06/15/2016

    The Lomachenko Model didn’t work out too well for boxers like Rademacher or Leon Spinks. Leon was fighting tough Scott Ledoux in only his 6th professional fight. Ledoux was a seasoned vet with a record of 21-6-1 at the time. Next up, Leon took on Alfio Rightetti, another world ranked contender who was undefeated at 27-0, in a title elimination bout. Even after the Ali bouts, Leon was rushed in with a larger man with a devastating punch named, Gerrie Coetzee. Spinks might have had a decent career had it not been for poor management and his careless lifestyle. Neon Leon had his moments, his win over the much larger Mercado was impressive, just too much success, too soon.

  2. Eric 09:58am, 06/15/2016

    We were told for years that “amateur” athletes in the former Eastern Bloc countries were really professional athletes who didn’t have to worry about pesky things like jobs and could devote their full attention to training in their specific sport. Maybe this new approach makes sense for outstanding amateur boxers who have devoted countless hours at learning their trade. I don’t think Leonard fought one guy who had a legitimate shot against the Olympic golden boy before his title shot against Benitez. And the number of .500% and sub par .500% fighters that Marciano padded his mythic 49-0 record with, give me reason to believe that The Rock just might be a tad overrated.

  3. Galvar 05:24am, 06/15/2016

    If he really wants to fight the best of the best, then he needs to get out of contract with Arum.  Uncle Bob will milk that cow as long possible and just put him in the ring with a bunch of “really good” fighters but no one who can actually beat him.

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