Photo: Will Hart
After just eight non-WSB professional fights, Vasyl Lomachenko is entrenched in most pound-for-pound lists and has required the fewest bouts to win major titles in two weight classes (seven). Thus, the 29-year-old Ukrainian, now in his physical prime, has made up for the extended time spent in the amateurs, where he went a mind-boggling 396-1. Lomachenko's next step will be against WBA "world" titlist Jason Sosa, whose belt will not be on the line. Sosa is coming off back-to-back victories over Javier Fortuna (from whom he won his subordinate WBA title) and veteran Stephen Smith. Sosa may be on a roll, but will that stop against the man called "Hi-Tech"?
The Ukrainian Matrix: Lomachenko's dazzling footwork, blinding combinations and off-the-charts ring IQ is jaw-dropping even to the most veteran observers and the numbers back it up. In his last seven fights, Lomachenko's blend of offensive brilliance and defensive prowess is striking. In that span, Lomachenko averaged 59.5 punches per round to his opponents' 49, more than tripled his opponents' total connects per round (22 vs. 7.9), obliterated them in the jab battle (30.6 thrown/7.8 connects per round vs. 19.5 thrown/1.3 connects) and landed 49.5% of his power shots to their 22.7%.
In his most recent fight against Nicholas Walters, who was thought to be the best opponent of his career thus far, Lomachenko's skills drove the Jamaican to quit. The reasons? First, the shorter Lomachenko out-jabbed Walters 36-15. Second, in the final four rounds Lomachenko led 80-28 in overall punches, 26-4 jabs and 54-24 power, which extended his final leads to 114-49 overall, 36-15 jabs and 78-34 power. Third, Lomachenko prevailed 26%-19% overall, 15%-10% jabs and 39%-28% power. Additionally, in the final round Lomachenko went 30 of 90 overall and 24 of 54 power to Walters' 5 of 34 and 4 of 24, respectively. That gap would drive any man to spit the bit.
What may be scarier for opponents is that Lomachenko has finally secured his knockout touch; after going the distance in his first four non-WSB pro fights, he has scored four straight knockouts. Will Sosa be No. 5?
Inside The Numbers: Lomachenko's +20.9 rating is No. 1 on the CompuBox Plus/Minus list. That +20.9 rating is the highest since Floyd Mayweather's +24.5. Lomachenko landed 49.5% of his power shots -- No. 2 on CompuBox Categorical Leaders list (behind Adonis Stevenson’s 54.5%). Opponents landed just 16.1% of their total punches, which ranks No. 1 on CompuBox Categorical Leaders list, and just 22.7% of their power shots, which ranks No. 2 behind Guillermo Rigondeaux’s 19.9%. Loma's 7.8 jabs landed per round nearly doubled the junior lightweight average.
Sosa's Surge: Walters fought both Sosa and Lomachenko, and if the stats are any indicator, Sosa stands even less of a chance of beating Lomachenko. While the Walters-Sosa bout was officially a 10-round draw, Sosa trailed in every category (281-168 overall, 56-47 jabs, 225-121 power), was outlanded in every round overall and trailed 24-4-2 in the round-by-round breakdowns. He also was less accurate in all phases (45%-19% overall, 30%-18% jabs, 52%-20% power). But Sosa was the far busier fighter (87.3 punches per round to Walters' 62.2), and he was the aggressor -- albeit an ineffective one. By comparison, Walters was outlanded 114-49 by Lomachenko in total punches and 78-34 in power shots.
Since then, however, Sosa has raised his stock considerably. He broke open a close fight with hard-to-figure southpaw Javier Fortuna by scoring knockdowns in rounds 10 and 11 as well as outlanding Fortuna 26-5 overall and 25-4 power in those rounds. That spurt enabled Sosa to prevail 114-98 overall and 103-85 power to off-set Fortuna's slim 13-11 lead in landed jabs. Sosa was also more accurate (27%-18% overall, 34%-26% power) and earned his statistical leads despite throwing fewer punches (41.7 per round to Fortuna's 52.3). His effectiveness against the southpaw Fortuna may give Sosa reason to feel somewhat better about fighting another left-hander in Lomachenko.
Another reason may be Sosa's performance against British veteran Stephen Smith last November in Monaco. Sosa was active (61 per round to Smith's 56.7), jabbed well (23.2 thrown/5.8 connects per round), accurate (36% overall; 25% jabs and 42% power) and dominant (261-182 overall; 69-35 jabs and 192-147 power). Sosa's five CompuBox-tracked opponents landed a combined 37.2% of their power punches.
Prediction: Lomachenko will test the limits of Sosa's courage, as he will likely land early and often. The biggest gap between them is foot speed; Lomachenko has that in abundance while Sosa's is below average. Thus, Sosa will struggle to keep up with Lomachenko, who will be the winner by mid-rounds TKO.