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Creating a Legacy

On Vasiliy Lomachenko’s Place in history

By John Zemel   - @intuboxing

The sport of boxing, like many things in life, has levels to it. There are over 20,000 active professional boxers in the world right now and countless others throughout history. Perhaps this is why fight fans seem obsessed with rankings, be they organizational, editorial, or the king of arbitrary subjectivity- the pound for pound list. When it comes to a fighter’s place in history, their legacy is judged on many factors, chief among them accomplishments and resume. At the bottom of the sport there are journeymen. These are the boxers who help to pad the resume of better fighters. These men fight for a living, and not always a glorious one, and oftentimes fight many times a year. Above journeymen you’ll find fighters who are among the best of their division. A small percentage of these boxers find themselves among the greatest in their era, and an even smaller percentage of these men go on to become Hall of Famers. Of all the sweet scientists who make it into the hall of fame, a microscopic handful of these warriors go on to become what are known as All Time Greats. These are the best of the best of the best to ever enter the squared circle. 

    Vasiliy Lomachenko has a list of accomplishments that reads like a work of fiction, if not fantasy. He is a two time Olympic gold medalist, who amassed an amateur record of 396 wins and 1 loss, which he avenged not once, but twice because of course he did. He became a world champion in this third professional bout, which is a record. Then he became a world champion in a second weight division in only his seventh fight, also a record. As if that wasn’t enough, he won a world championship belt in his third weight class in his twelfth professional fight, obviously another record to add to a growing list. He made four straight professional boxers quit on their stool and has absolutely embarrassed almost every boxer who has had the gall to step between the ropes to face him. To see him fight is to witness an absolute master class on the sport of boxing and he continues to amaze fans with his use of angles, his speed and footwork, and his punishing technical dominance. He is the best in his division, among the very best in his era, and already a sure fire Hall of Famer. 

    He’s also 31, and not getting any younger. While his accomplishments read like something out of a comic book, his resume leaves a lot to be desired. He has yet to face a fighter who will be remembered for anything other than being a “guy who fought Loma”, with the exception of Guillermo Rigondeaux who jumped two weight classes and never had a realistic chance. In boxing, fighters are judged not only by wins and losses, but by the quality of their opponents as well and though Vasiliy has fought many world champions, he has yet to face anyone who could conceivably propel him into All Time Great status. The eye test might make you famous, get you mentioned by Joe Rogan, and create a legion of fans ready to proclaim you the G.O.A.T. ten fights into your pro career, but make an all time legacy it does not. This Friday, when he faces Anthony “Million Dolla” Crolla, it is sure to be another in a long line of showcase fights meant to gain fans and show off his brilliance. However, it will once again leave us wondering about his potential place in history. Muhammad Ali once wrote about his rivalry with Joe Frazier, “One could not rise without the other.” Who would Sugar Ray Leonard be without Duran, Hearns, and Hagler? Who would Floyd Mayweather be without Oscar or Cotto or Canelo? How much longer will fight fans have to wait to see Vasiliy Lomachenko pushed to his limits, to see what he’s truly made of? The annals of boxing history wait with bated breath.