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Vasiliy Lomachenko talks Pedraza, passing on Pacquiao, and more

Vasiliy Lomachenko may not be blusterous, but his confidence is easy to see.

Vasyl Lomachenko v Guillermo Rigondeaux Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The dude is cocky, but understand, not in an off-putting way.

Vasiliy Lomachenko, it is sometimes clear, would rather — OK, much rather — be doing what he does best, fighting, rather than doing the heavier lifting of promoting/hyping a forthcoming event.

On Thursday, Loma, or “No Mas Chenko,” as his most ardent adherents like to call him, for his patented manner of breaking down and disposing of foes, chatted up media at a press event held at Madison Square Garden.

The exceedingly well-oiled machine that is Top Rank, led by birthday-boy-on-Saturday Bob Arum, trekked into town and banged the drums for a Saturday night at the fights, which will unfold at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. Arum was in high spirits and fine form. Maybe it’s pre-Mueller report anticipation? Looking to his 87th birthday, or the Sunday trip to Paris? Or that Loma-Pedrza was almost sold out, at a capacity of 5,000 at the Theater.

Loma, his head topped by a super sporty chapeau, mostly spoke English, another task that he might not love as much as the actual fighting, and when speaking in Russian, was translated by manager Egis Klimas.

As per usual, he was not unfriendly, but business-like in his answering to queries. Was his mood a tick better because rather than having a media workout, at which he’d be peppered by 350 questions from keyboard tappers, Top Rank had a meet-n-greet with under-served kids at Gleason’s Gym on Wednesday? I’m guessing yes.

The 11-1 hitter, who has 9 KOs, spoke on his ascending level of stardom. He said “that’s not my main thing,” and then touched on his Saturday task.

“It was a surprise, yeah. It’s only my mistake, it’s not his smart move, his smart punch,” the 30-year-old lightweight titlist said of getting sent to the mat compliments of Jorge Linares. “I forget about defense,” he said.

The fighter hurt his shoulder and then had surgery, so he’s been off since that May fight against Linares. Linares might on paper be better than the Puerto Rican Pedrza (25-1; age 29), who Loma said has “good defense” and “good timing. It will be very interesting.” He cautioned us that he’d need to see Pedraza, but “it will not be easy as all say.”

Again, Loma comes off as sort of cocky, because the confidence he oozes is very direct. But, he doesn’t step over the line with braggy predictions. He told us that Pedrza isn’t the easy out many pundits are stating.

The Ukrainian has made NY a second home; he beat Guillermo Rigondeuax in December 2017, and that outing was “easy work” as compared to what more than a few pundits predicted. I told him I expected that he’d get the better of the Puerto Rican, and heard him say he’s thinking he will stay at the lightweight class for another year, at least. Radio Rahim asked him about the jam-packed welterweight division, and specifically the March tango between Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia. Loma said he isn’t a fan of Garcia going up so much in weight, he doesn’t think Garcia can down Spence, but he “will cheer for him.”

Rahim asked him about the January Manny Pacquiao vs Adrien Broner bout, and Loma said, “I don’t want to be a man who made a name on old legend.” He was offered Pacquiao, but, he told us, he didn’t want that fight.

“It was a big difference in age. I think he’s too old. (He then spoke in Russian). I’m not disrespecting Pacquiao, but I don’t want to make my name bigger beating an old legend. I think his career his done, I don’t want to be, because of him, a legend in boxing.”

Bottom line, he wants to beat young guns, not the arthritic lions.

“In my weight class and closer to my weight class, we don’t have a big superstar,” he said. Too bad, “but I can’t move up to 147 now, it’s too much stupid,” Loma said.

My three cents: Loma is maybe the best pugilist in the sport. “1 and 1A,” that’s what the Top Rank crew refers to him and Crawford. We will see to what level of stardom he can climb. There is no direct line between skill set and popularity, drawing power, all that. The fighter said that damn right, he’s looking forward to keepimg on climbing the ladder, and part of that is moving into pay-per-view territory. I’m thinking he might be thinking that him versus Mikey Garcia would be a fine debut PPV foray, but not as much if Mikey gets smeared by Spence. But before I could go there, the intimate Q-n-A dissolved, as the full presser was soon to start. I shuffled downstairs, and Loma stayed behind. He sat next to, chatted with quickly, and then snapped a pic with Mr. 1 or is it 1A, Crawford, and then went downstairs to hype the Saturday fight with Pedraza, which will screen on ESPN. Low-key and with an absence of edge or irritability or giddy enthusiasm. Loma style, basically. That’s not too much stupid in the least.

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