By Kieran Mulvaney
Vasyl Lomachenko does not suffer fools gladly. Specifically, he does not appear to be a fan of the paid inquisitors he is obliged to accommodate during fight week.
Ask the two-time Olympic gold medalist, who won a featherweight title in his third professional bout, how it feels to be in the co-main event on Saturday night’s pay-per-view telecast from Macau, and he pointedly prefaces his answer by noting that he is about to repeat what he already said in the previous evening’s pre-fight press conference: namely, that he is “very excited” to be on the card.
Seek some background by giving him the opportunity to reveal his favorite fighters, and before he names Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, and Sugar Ray Leonard, he underlines that he has publicly recited this list “many times.”
Unsurprisingly, inquire as to the most difficult aspect of making the transition from amateur standout to professional prodigy, and he responds without a smile that it is “answering the same questions from media people.”
But if that is who he is and how he is, so be it. So the guy’s kind of a hard ass. That, as well as his natural ability and finely-honed skills, is what has enabled him, after winning gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, to challenge for a world title in just his second professional contest and, after falling just short in that tilt against Orlando Salido, to succeed impressively in his next outing, against Gary Russell Jr.
Still, it doesn’t make a journalist’s life any easier. Did he learn anything from his fight against the experienced Salido that helped him in his next outing against Russell, or that he thinks will stand him in good stead in the rest of his career? “I can’t say I learned a good deal from either of those bouts. I also learned a lot from sparring and hard training.” OK; well, how does he feel about the fact that Russell was an undefeated guy who had also been highly touted, and that the manner in which Lomachenko dominated him impressed fans and media alike?
“I don’t know why many of you guys were impressed with that bout. I just did what I normally do. I don’t think he showed why everyone was talking about him, about his speed and his fast hands.”
As taciturn as he can be outside the ring, though, Lomachenko says everything he needs to inside of it – so much so that, with a record of 2-1, he is a huge favorite against an opponent, Chonlatarn Piriapinyo, whose ledger stands at 52-1 with 33 KOs. “All I know about my opponent is that out of the 50-plus fights he had, only one or two were against good opponents,” Lomachenko sneered. It is mildly reassuring to realize he doesn’t reserve his scorn for the Fourth Estate.
Just to prove that Lomachenko isn’t all sneers and snarls, here are some Instagram videos he recorded for his son’s third birthday: