Commentary| It’s quite rare in the sport of boxing to see a bout between a newly turned professional, and an undefeated boxer with 20 or more wins be considered a tossup/pick em type fight. In more cases than not, the more seasoned professional is normally considered by most to be the favorite. The Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Gary Russell Jr. bout was anything but an exception to that rule of general thumb.
In only his third professional fight, Ukrainian boxer Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1) bested American Gary Russell Jr. (24-1, 14 KO’s) by majority decision, and claimed the vacant WBO Featherweight title belt. The loss is the first for Russell as a professional. The final scorecards read 114-114, 116-112, and 116-112. The bout, which was the co-feature to the main event of Yoshihiro Kamegai vs. Robert Guerrero, was held at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. With the victory over Russell, Lomachenko, 26, joined former light welterweight champion Saensak Muangsurin as the fastest fighter to win a world title.
Although Lomachenko is still considered to be “wet behind the ears” as a professional, he’s far from inexperienced as a boxer. With an amateur record of 396-1, Lomachenko is a savvy amateur veteran, who’s a two-time Olympic Gold medalist. He’s also a gold and silver medalist from the several amateur championships has has participated in. With the experience he’s had from his years an an amateur, Lomachenko has seen nearly every type of style in the boxing ring. Like Lomachenko, Gary Russell Jr. has a stellar amateur background also, winning the Bronze medal at the World Amateur Championships in 2005.
The fight itself was a fairly entertaining event. Gary Russell Jr. is known for having some of the fastest hands in boxing, and he displayed his well known hand speed early on in the fight. Russell started out fast in nearly every single round of the bout, but he seemed to physically slow a bit as the seconds ticked in each round. As the rounds would pass, Lomachenko appeared to get more into his groove, and had Russell’s speed timed perfectly. The fight was competitive up until the final rounds, where Russell began to look discouraged from Lomachenko having him timed as he came in. Lomachenko began to really press the action in the final round, and stunned Russell with an uppercut to the chin as the fight ended.
Now holding a world title, along with beating an up-and-coming fighter like Gary Russell Jr., Lomachenko now has a clear path towards making an bigger name for himself in the sport of boxing. As for Gary Russell Jr., the criticism that he hasn’t been facing top level competition in his still young career was likely confirmed against Lomachenko. Some say that Russell has been exposed, however, I do not believe that to be the case. I believe that Gary Russell Jr. can still have a great career in the sport of boxing; he just finally ran into a boxer that is more experienced in Vasyl Lomachenko.