Vasyl Lomachenko and The Hype/Hate Dynamic

By Paul Magno on May 7, 2018
Vasyl Lomachenko and The Hype/Hate Dynamic
Lomachenko challenges lightweight champ Jorge Linares this Saturday in New York City.

Fighting Orlando Salido and Gary Russell Jr. in your second and third fights as a pro is deserving of some serious boxing street cred…

Hype is blinding.

Most of the time, a fighter with an aggressive public relations team behind him will reap the benefits of efforts to sell his résumé and overall ability. Hype works and if promoters hit on the right sales technique in appealing to fans, a legion of true believers will be built around a particular fighter.

There’s also blowback from the grinding gears of a hype machine. Too much hype can turn off a sizeable portion of boxing fandom who may view it as disingenuous or flat-out manufactured BS.

In the case of Vasyl Lomachenko, a well-executed public relations push may have created some cynics and critics who should’ve been aboard the bandwagon all along. The seemingly endless media crowing about pound-for-pound greatness and the calculated comparisons of all-time greats with a fighter barely into double-digit wins turned off a lot of hardcore fight fans.

And while it’s true that Lomachenko has never been an underdog and hasn’t beaten anyone he wasn’t supposed to beat, the same could be said for a lot of boxing’s top fighters these days. Actually, none of Ring Magazine’s top five pound-for-pound fighters have done anything other than what they have been heavily favored to do. Maybe that’s just the byproduct of the politics and the business structure of the sport these days.

However, fighting Orlando Salido and Gary Russell Jr. in your second and third fights as a pro is deserving of some serious boxing street cred. Dominant wins over Nicholas Walters and Roman Martinez are also nothing to be brushed aside. Even forcing a “No Mas” from an undersized and deeply disadvantaged Guillermo Rigondeaux carries some weight. Mind you, this is not an overwhelming body of work around which his well-crafted legend is built—especially since he actually loss to Salido—but it is worthy of legitimate respect as something “real.”

And if the Ukraine native manages to move up from 130 to beat lightweight champ Jorge Linares this coming Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York, he’ll be taking his legacy one notch higher.

Linares represents an accomplished naturally larger fighter in (or near) his prime and, despite lacking the raw talent of a Lomachenko, he is a wonderfully skilled boxer with a true high-end, elite-level skill set. There are definitely flaws in Linares’ game and those weaknesses, stacked against Lomachenko’s strengths, surely made Team Lomachenko eager to take on this challenge. But, again, this is no different than any other top fighter’s team calculating risk vs. reward in a move up in weight. Linares is no worse than the second best lightweight in the world, behind Mikey Garcia, and a Lomachenko win over the current WBA champ will be a quality win with no asterisks attached.

But the incredible amount of hyperbole attached to his every achievement almost forces some boxing people to take a cynical stance at what he accomplishes. The Rigondeaux win, especially, deserves asterisks, footnotes, and maybe even a different font on BoxRec, but there’s been nothing overtly dubious about Vasyl’s other ten pro fights.

The sport’s elite don’t take a lot of risks these days. That’s just how things are and we won’t be seeing Lomachenko extending himself too far away from his comfort zone, either.

But, whatever the case, Lomachenko’s career has been no more hand-crafted than Gennady Golovkin’s, Canelo Alvarez’s, Terence Crawford’s, or Mikey Garcia’s. Some may bristle at the fawning media attention or the rush to anoint him an all-time great after just five years as a pro. An argument could also be made that other, more deserving fighters should be getting this kind of attention. But none of this is Lomachenko’s fault.

Vasyl just shows up to fight as he is contracted to do and executes to the best of his elite-level ability. Hate the hype all you like, but appreciate the man.

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  1. Koolz 10:10am, 05/08/2018

    Linares is one of my favorite fighters he is amazing when he get’s into combos.
    But there is one thing that is huge difference between him and The Legend!
    That is Linares does not adapt to a fighter.  He becomes mechanical where Loma will adapt and use his feet to confuse Linares.
    Linares will be spun blinded and confused.  By the later rounds he will just be done.

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