Maybe they should start calling him ‘No Mas Chenko’. Whether it’s the unnoticeable power or the sheer embarrassment he mounts on his opponents, it is working in a way that we rarely witness in a boxing ring.
It probably is not a record, but the boxing historians would have a task on their hands finding the last fighter to force 4 fighters in a row to retire on their stools in world title fights. And none of those opponents came with a reputation of giving up when the going gets tough.
For such a slick technician it is bewildering – and quite simply frightening – that Vasyl Lomachenko 10-1(8KO’s) carries such a mean streak with him through each weight division.
Now the former Featherweight and Super Featherweight ruler is looking to increase his reputation by adding a 3rd title in a 3rd different weight class on Saturday night. But the former amateur superstar must beat another pound-for-pound sensation in Jorge Linares 44-3(27KO’s).
Linares has been in scintillating form since reigning as WBA Lightweight king, but in spite of facing good opposition through his fantastic career, this comes as his toughest opponent to date in his 48th professional outing.
The same applies for Lomachenko who has beaten the likes of Gary Russell Jr, Nicholas Walters and Guillermo Rigondeaux. But this time he is giving up significant ground in size against a fellow elite fighter.
This has on paper all the ingredients of a fight of the year, with Lomachenko set to be unrivalled as the pound-for-pound number 1 with victory – and for a growing number he already has that subjective crown.
To fight back-to-back top 10 pound-for-pound opposition is rare, but Lomachenko seems keen to keep that trend going as he has a date with Mikey Garcia firmly in mind for later this calendar year.
The general consensus is that Vasyl is simply too good for Linares who is a fine technical fighter himself, but that does not match up with the matrix like skills of Lomachenko.
Linares must then impose his size and power, attempt to hurt Lomachenko early, thus hindering his movement and punch selection. If Linares cannot disrupt the rhythm of Vasyl, then this will be a long and unenjoyable night for the Venezuelan.
Luke Campbell was able to stick with Linares throughout their 12-rounder last year, but even Campbell had trouble matching the work rate of Linares as he went through the gears in the middle rounds.
Lomachenko is a perfectionist, but if Linares is able to shift through the gears then he could begin to pull back the rounds, and if momentum is sustained he can spring a come-from-behind upset on the cards.
But the pick is for Lomachenko to make this venture look ominously easy. After a slow start from both, Vasyl will find his groove, slipping in and out before Linares can put his sizzling combinations together.
The odd punch will find its way through for Linares – thanks to his own excellent timing and accuracy – but this will only break Lomachenko’s stride for a moment.
Linares could nick a couple of close rounds, but his belt will be all but lost by the time we reach the final 4 stanzas. Lomachenko will be in cruise control while Linares looks increasingly tired and begins backing up.
Lomachenko can punctuate his career best win with a late knockdown, before hearing his name read out as the clear winner on all three scorecards.