“I imagine you’re feeling a bit like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.”
That line from the iconic late nineties sci-fi classic The Matrix was uttered to Neo, our young hero as he became woke to the dream he was about to be woken up from by Morpheus; the fatherly Jedi Master that would Shepard Neo toward his destiny.
Last night at the MGM resort in Washington D.C., Jason Sosa must have felt like Alice as The Matrix whirled and whirled around him.
“The Matrix,” Morpheus said. “Is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”
That truth is we may be witnessing the ascendance of the greatest pure boxing talent of the last 100 years & I do not say that lightly. However, while people argue over whether or not Chocolatito deserves to still be #1 pound for pound best in boxing after his first loss or if Jacobs got robbed by GGG, Vasyl ‘Hi Tech’ Lomachenko is dismantling and nearly embarrassing his competition – one more in the win column and one more for the highlight reel.
The first two rounds were cautious by both men but one could easily observe the CPU working in Lomachenko as he experimented with timing and distance, ascertaining if Sosa could be baited by his feints and calculating the distance need to convert kinetic energy to blunt force trauma.
For me, the beginning of the end came about halfway through the third round.
In the third round Lomachenko using only pure foot work had out maneuvered Sosa and turned him into the far-right corner of the ring and unloaded a three-punch combination that rattled the challenger.
Lomachenko had diagnosed Sosa and the cure would be worse than the disease.
Sosa was still fresh however and Lomachenko remained somewhat watchful. By the fourth round Lomachenko had begun to open up, he sat down on his punches more and brought out the straight left-he landed. One near the end of the fifth round the snapped Sosa’s head at a grotesque angle on top of a multi-punch volley that was completely unanswered by the challenger.
Lomachenko stepped back with seconds to go in the fifth and played to the crowd.
What followed was academic.
More unanswered punches thrown in combination by Lomachenko followed by cutting out predominantly to his opponents left side like a scimitar to find a new angle to continue the onslaught or move to safety.
The fight could have been stopped in the last minute of the eight round as Lomachenko strafed Sosa mercilessly, with hooks to the body and head. Sosa stumbled against the ropes bent, standing on weakened legs, Sosa clinched and the break by the referee gave the challenger a few seconds respite. The bell sounded and Sosa warily trudged to his corner where his father and trainer told his son he’d give him one more round to show him something or he’d stop the fight, Sosa nodded and said only “I’m gonna knock him out.” I don’t think any of them believed that, however the young man’s bravery is unquestioned.
Sosa came out dancing in the 9th, perhaps to show his father he still had his legs but Lomachenko stalked him, the beating resumed and Lomachenko closed the round with a stiff straight left to the body right hook to the head-one of his best combinations.
Sosa’s father and a commissioner from the D.C. athletic commission were of the same mind and asked for the fight to be stopped. Interestingly only the ref in the District of Columbia can technically stop a fight so some frantic waving and confusion in Sosa’s corner ensued as they tried to get Kenny Chevalier’s attention.
Now, two fights in a row Vasyl Lomachenko has forced an opponent to quit in between rounds, bringing his overall professional record to 8-1 (6 KOs), five of those stoppages consecutively.
At less than ten fights it seems ridiculous that many in the boxing world want to put Lomachenko atop the pound for pound picture, commentators like Max Kellerman of HBO that copromotes Lomachenko fights alongside Bob Arum’s Top Rank long ago ran out of superlatives to describe Lomachenko’s in ring ability and yet his dominance cannot be denied along with the entertainment value that he brings to fights showing fans skill not seen since Willie Pep or Orlando Conizales.
Full disclosure - I am as big a fan of Lomachenko’s as anyone; if you’re a fan of the sport you must be! However, I would caution temperance. Lomachenko has gone out of his way to fight the best available competition; Sosa was a champion and ranked in the top ten but was not even Lomachenko’s first choice of opponent, it was Orlando Salido. The only man thus far to defeat Lomachenko and Salido came in as a welterweight and hit Lomachenko with 100 low blows to do it and still nearly lost that fight. Lomachenko desperately wants to avenge that loss, that said, Walter, Sosa, Koasicha are tailor made for Lomachenko - they are there to be hit; legitimate opponents with power and good records but without special effects.
There are other men, champions themselves that could find a glitch in the Matrix- IBF Super Feather weight champion Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, with youth and athleticism comes to mind and five pounds above Lomachenko is Mikey Garcia with the size, power and educated jab to potentially give the Ukrainian fits. They have already begun jawing back and forth, Mikey is a Ronin with no promoter but he does have a history with Bob Arum who promotes Lomachenko. If Arum and Mikey could put their differences aside this would be an intriguing fight to make.
For the moment, the boxing world has two choices:
“Take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.”
Or, take the red pill and Vasyl Lomachenko show’s you just how far the rabbit hole goes.