Can Loma reclaim top Lightweight status?
Vasyl Lomachenko is at somewhat of a crossroads in his career, after a defeat that highlighted the rapid landscape movement in the sport of boxing.
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A surprise loss to Teofimo Lopez last October turned the man many ranked as Pound for Pound best in the world to something of a forgotten being in the Lightweight division - all of a sudden shunned from the so called 'new big 4'.
The four, consisting of Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta 'Tank' Davis and Lopez, all have significant age advantage on Lomachenko, who at 32 is likely in his peak right now, in addition to mass exposure at a younger age. A fighter with a large social media following these days is as important as the talent within their hands, and three of the four have had big names around them from young ages and built up their online platforms, Lopez earned his largely by stunning the world when he claimed his highest profile UD against Lomachenko.
Loma, who graduated from the Eastern bloc and left it late to turn pro didn't have the head start some of the others did, and although he's well known now - because of the unbelievable talent he's displayed - he is of no higher reward than the other fighters at the top of the division.
So how does arguably the most talented man in the division get back on top?
The first element of the strategy is arguably the most obvious. Fight soon and fight well.
When Loma fights now, the world watches and his loss to Lopez hasn't changed that. He may not get the heroes welcome that has greeted him to previous fights, but the exposure would still be grand. Take on a ranked fighter quickly, and look good doing it keeps him on the lips of the public.
We should clarify 'good' here. We've seen Loma do unbelievable things over the past few years, he's elusive, impossible to hit. He slips, slides and glides while tormenting and teasing opponents often into submission.
But we know he has this in his locker now, now we need to see aggression. Easy to say from behind a keyboard, but if Lomachenko goes out and dominates a good level fighter, wins every round for 6 or 7 then finishes it in the 8th you can see the headlines already.
I think it’s madness how lomachenko is now just being dismissed by these lightweights, crazy. He’s still one of the best and can beat any of them on his day.— Liam Smith (@LiamBeefySmith) January 28, 2021
His second choice, he may not like to hear but we all know money talks - so ask for less of it.
Fully accepting that it's disrespectful to ask one of the greatest in recent years to lower his asking price, but high risk low reward factors turn big fights into dreams rather than realities in every generation. Lomachenko versus Davis is winnable for Loma (it's also losable as well as Tank's stock continues to rise), but Loma is currently out of the circle and this is a fight that has been clamoured for for years now.
A rematch against Lopez offers nothing for Teofimo, who can already lay claim to his name and the W, and Ryan Garcia doesn't seem ready to go in against the experience of Lomachenko yet.
The only way to make those fights happen is lower your asking price. Loma is still a great name to have on your CV, if you don't already have it - so by putting his price down maybe Garcia or Tank would have another look.
Finally, you could argue Lomachenko needs to be more vocal.
A horrible video came out towards the end of 2020, of Loma seemingly implying his fight with Lopez was subject to corruption - a claim he has since denounced and put down as a mistranslation, but this is seemingly the only communication of his that has made it into the main stream boxing media, while the 4 have been tweeting or Instagramming on a weekly basis, building up the drama and narratives the public will feed into. They're deliberately leaving Loma out of that conversation. He needs to force himself back into it.
Lomachenko can get back to the top of the division, and to the top of the sport. He lost to Teofimo Lopez, but he is capable of beating him and certainly capable of beating Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia. He still has a lot to offer, and hopefully we see him at least challenge the top table again in 2021.