Photos: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
In the fourth round of his featherweight title defense against overmatched Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Vasyl Lomachenko scored a knockdown of exquisite beauty: landing a southpaw right hook and a follow-up left, shifting his position, landing another combination, and then taking a step back, sizing up his foe and waiting for the perfect moment before launching one more left hand to drop his Thai challenger to the canvas in the corner.
An early end to the contest seemed a matter of inevitability; but, at the end of the sixth, Lomachenko – the two-time Olympic champion who won a world title in his third professional bout – returned to his corner with a painful and possibly broken left wrist. So, for the rest of the fight, he went out and won every minute of every remaining round with just his right hand, moving in and out of range like an especially agile cat and popping Piriyapinyo with right hooks, jabs and uppercuts. His opponent was game – and initially, once he sensed Lomachenko was hurt, he turned aggressor; but by the end, he had withdrawn into his cage, resigned to being beaten up by a one-handed man.
Lomachenko is simply a joy to watch: his speed, his balance, his footwork, his innate understanding of where he is in relation to his opponent. In just his fourth pro outing, he is already close to being the perfect package. While his injury may have prevented the knockout his fans craved, the fact that he dominated a foe who entered the ring with a record of 52-1, and did so with just one hand for half the fight, is perhaps all the more impressive and indicative of his tremendous potential.