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Lomachenko TKO’s Marriaga in the seventh round

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Vasyl Lomachenko (right) taunts Miguel Marriaga from the corner.

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Vasyl Lomachenko (right) taunts Miguel Marriaga from the corner.

He has set as his ultimate goal to be the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and he has already been mentioned by some boxing pundits as at that ultimate status. Another step toward that goal was to take care of his next challenger, underdog Miguel Marriaga.

Junior lightweight world titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko stepped forward big time on August 5 in the main event of the boxing card at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The Ukrainian toyed with Marriaga, knocking him down twice, winning by a seventh-round technical knockout. The bout came to a quick ending after a brutal seventh round where the challenger took some serious punishment.

Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KO), a two-time Olympic gold medalist considered by many the greatest amateur in boxing history (396-1), retained his 130-pound world title for the third time.

He began the fight by probing Marriaga, looking to land his accurate jabs and hard body punches while taking almost no punishment in return. By the second round Lomachenko was in control, landing combinations to the body and head, backing Marriaga up. Marriaga (25-3, 21 KO) was left on the defensive, no answers for his attacker.

The third round saw the Ukrainian land a left which dropped the underdog on his backside. Lomachenko then toyed with him, motioning for him to come at him in the corner. Marriaga obliged and Lomachenko nailed him, wiggled his hips, made a face at him and got a huge rise from the crowd. Somehow Marriaga landed a punch and an accidental head butt opened bruises over both of Lomachenko’s eyes.

Not liking the cut from the head butt, Lomachenko seemed unaffected as he peppered his opponent with punches thrown from all angles, some with power, other punches for range. Most landed and he remained in total control in every round.

The 29-year-old champion enjoyed a huge – what proved to be – final round, hammering Marriaga all over the ring in the seventh round. The Colombian was befuddled and getting quite beat up. Seconds before the round ended Lomachenko connected with a hard left, crumpling Marriaga to the mat. The bell ended the round and his corner threw in the towel, bringing the fight to a merciful ending.

Lomachenko’s promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum, indicated his fighter will be back in December to defend his title, probably in New York. Possible future opponents include junior featherweight titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux, Miguel Berchelt and Orlando Salido, who defeated Lomachenko in his second pro fight.

The Ukrainian champ has no preference as to whom he may face next. His goals remain the same: big names and world titles. Based on the Marriaga bout, the future looks bright.

“I never saw anything like this. He’s unbelievable,” said Bob Arum, who has been in boxing for more than 50 years. “Not only does he have the knowledge, he has the skill set that I’ve never seen before. Fast reflexes, everything and he really entertains. Who else did that? Muhammad Ali.” (Arum quote from post-fight news conference, courtesy of ESPN.)

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