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Lomachenko vs Sosa: Fight preview and analysis

Vasyl Lomachenko looks to cement his claim as one of the sport’s best on Saturday night.

Vasyl Lomachenko v Romulo Koasicha Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jason Sosa

Vasyl Lomachenko

Roman Martinez v Vasyl Lomachenko Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Record: 7-1 (5 KO) ... Streak: W6 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 7-1 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5’6" / 65½" ... Age: 29

Thoughts: Lomachenko is weird to do those quick header things for, because it doesn’t seem like he’s arguably the best fighter in the world at 7-1, right? Just 7-1?

But Lomachenko is no ordinary 7-1. For starters, his loss came when he ambitiously tried to win a world title in his second pro fight, taking on the gritty, crafty, frankly dirty veteran Orlando Salido, and he got some lessons about pro boxing, against a fighter who also had missed weight. It happens. Well, not really. It doesn’t really happen, the whole scenario. Anyway, Lomachenko had to wait until his third fight to win a world title, beating Gary Russell Jr for the vacated WBO featherweight belt.

Since beating Russell, Lomachenko has dominated everyone in his path: Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Gamalier Rodriguez, and Romulo Koasicha were no challenge for him, but that was pretty much to be expected.

It’s in his last two outings that Vasyl has set himself apart from the pack for real. He toyed with Rocky Martinez before scoring a highlight reel fifth round knockout last June, winning the WBO super featherweight title, a move up in weight that came simply because he couldn’t find anyone good to fight him at 126.

Last November, he squared off with Nicholas Walters, an unbeaten contender and former featherweight titleholder who, on paper, was a real threat. In reality, Walters was no threat, smacked around by Lomachenko until he quit after seven rounds.

The question is no longer about Lomachenko’s excellence — that is obvious. It’s now mostly about how high in weight he can go before it’s a bit too much. He’s not big at 130, but he fights big. Can that translate to 135, a weight he’s already talked about fighting at in the future?

That’s not to overlook Jason Sosa, mind you, it’s just a little hard to envision Jason Sosa doing what Martinez and Walters could not. And I don’t just mean beating Lomachenko, I mean even seriously competing. He’s on another level.

Jason Sosa

WBA World Boxing Championship Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Record: 20-1-4 (15 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-0-1 ... Last 10: 9-0-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'5" / 67" ... Age: 29

Thoughts: Jason Sosa is a good fighter. He hasn’t lost since 2010, a stretch where he’s gone 17-0-3 after starting his career a pedestrian 3-1-1. Sosa became known to most in December 2015, when he was chosen to face Nicholas Walters on HBO. In a fight most observers felt Walters won, the judges saw a draw.

Since then, though, Sosa has legitimized himself entirely. He upset Javier Fortuna last June in Beijing, winning the WBA “world” super featherweight title, then made a successful defense against the United Kingdom’s Stephen Smith in November in Monte Carlo. It was a great year abroad for the 29-year-old native of Camden, New Jersey, and now he gets back closer to home to face Lomachenko in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

What can he do with this fight, though? Nobody expects him to win. I think few expect him to even compete. On the one hand, that’s bad, right? On the other hand, the pressure on Sosa is perhaps so low that he can just go in there relaxed and be himself. He’s a good, physical fighter, tough as hell, packs a punch, and though he lacks the technical qualities of Lomachenko, so did Salido. If Sosa has a chance, he’ll have to copy the Salido plan, make it a little dirty, and try to rough Lomachenko up. He cannot outbox the Ukrainian.

Matchup Grade: B. The only thing that stops me from going higher is I don’t think it’ll be all that competitive a fight. Sosa is a good fighter, but so was Nicholas Walters, and so was Rocky Martinez. They both got routed by Lomachenko. That said, the presence of Lomachenko at all, lus Sosa’s legit quality are enough to earn this fight a solid B on paper. Hopefully it’ll be even better than that.


  • Oleksandr Usyk (11-0, 10 KO) will defend the WBO cruiserweight title against fellow former Olympian Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KO). The fact that both are former Olympians is — well, look, it’s basically the cruiserweight version of Anthony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale. Joshua was a gold medalist. Breazeale was an also-ran. That’s what we have here, too, though Hunter is a better pure boxer than Breazeale, who was a project at London 2012. Usyk won the heavyweight (201 lbs) gold that year, while Hunter was out in the round of 16, losing on callback to Artur Beterbiev, who would then lose to Usyk in round two. So if you thought Hunter really beat Beterbiev, here’s your chance to get a look at Usyk-Hunter. On paper, this one is all Usyk. Hunter hasn’t really been tested as a pro, but he does have talent, and is a second generation fighter. Grade: C+
  • Top light heavyweight prospect Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KO), who won bronze as part of Ukraine’s medal count at London 2012, will be back in action against Cuba’s Yunieski Gonzalez (18-2, 14 KO). There’s a reason to think there’s a potential trickiness in this matchup; Gonzalez gave Jean Pascal and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy all they could handle in controversial losses in 2015, and came back last year to win a couple of fights. But Gvozdyk is not stepping up to this level, either. He’s been here for a few fights, dismantling former title challengers Nadjib Mohammedi, Tommy Karpency, and Isaac Chilemba in his last three starts. There’s a clear favorite here, but Gonzalez can punch, which none of those other guys really could, and that could make a difference. Grade: C+

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