This Saturday, August 5th, ESPN showcases quite possibly the best fighter on the planet, Vasyl "High Tech" Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KO's), in a stay-busy outing against the rugged, yet out-gunned Miguel Marriaga (25-2, 21 KO's). They clash at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. Meanwhile, in lieu of career defining, pay-per-view level bouts, Lomachenko has steadfastly sought to rectify the lone blemish of his professional resume.
A gold medalist at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, Lomachenko amassed an amateur mark of 391 wins and 1 loss, which was avenged. He also tabulated a 6-0 record in the World Series of Boxing between January and May of 2013. To this day, there's controversy over whether W.S.B. bouts should count as post-amateur one's, given the lack of head-gear and the fact the participants were paid to perform. On the flipside, 10-ounce gloves were used, instead of the customary 8-ounce gloves, which fighter's 147 pounds or lower wear. Per Lomachenko, they shouldn't count on his prizefighting ledger since the glove size didn't allow for him to make a proper fist, thereby compromising his punching power.
In his 2nd official pro bout, Vasyl received a shot at the featherweight title, then held by deeply seasoned vet, Orlando Salido. Problem is, Salido couldn't make weight and forfeited his title on the scale. Compounding matters, Salido gained an additional 19 pounds prior to fight night, and stepped in the ring 11 pounds heavier than Lomachenko.
Having never gone 12 rounds, Lomachenko seemed to be pacing himself and was too patient. Salido was stronger in the clinch, worked the body well and distracted his inexperienced foe with low blows and leading with his head. Literally 5-10 shots were clearly landed below the belt, with barely a warning from the referee.
Realizing he might be trailing, Lomachenko rose to the challenge late, and brought the fight to Salido, hurting him with a southpaw lead, ripping him to the body (finally) and outright pummeling him until the final bell rang.
Lomachenko's first professional loss would come via split decision, but the way he lost didn't diminish him at all, nor did it seem Salido possessed a sustainable, irreversible level of mastery over him. Since that imperfection, Team Lomachenko has done everything imaginable to get a rematch, to no avail. In the interim, Vasyl has been breathtaking, schooling featherweight badass, Gary Russell, Jr., in his very next fight, registering a "KO of the Year" level beat down of Roman Martinez and making the undefeated Nicholas Walters quit after 7 one-sided rounds.
All the while, Salido continues to hold out for more money, declining a career high purse of $720,000, which brings us to Miguel Marriaga. Any man with two hands has a chance of winning a boxing match, but Marriaga has nothing for Lomachenko, stylistically speaking.
This fight will do nothing to dispel the notion of Vasyl Lomachenko being the best in the world, pound for pound.