How Much Richard Commey Means To Vasyl Lomachenko

Networks and promoters sell fights in simple terms, using promotional tag lines and catchphrases that are easy to plaster onto a screen or print onto a poster. Nothing that's ever too deep, just something they hope sells the fight.

Often, it's as simple as labeling the contest a world title eliminator, or a unification match. When things are a bit more edgy between the boxers, they might call the fight personal or claim the competitors are bitter rivals. Terms like crossroads bout, grudge match, etc. are all just ways to ensure the fans have an idea of what to expect without having to give them all the details in such a limited space.

Sometimes, fights don't really have that kind of built in, surface level material with which to work. That's sort of the case for this Saturday's showdown between former world champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Richard Commey.

They aren't rivals, there isn't a title on the line. On paper, this is just a good fight between quality fighters that are looking to re-stake a claim in the Lightweight division. Which is probably why Top Rank went with a Lightning (Lomachenko) vs. Fire (Commey) theme with their promotional material. It's light, fluff stuff that can, if nothing else, give the graphics designer something with which to work.

However, for Lomachenko, this fight leaves a lot more on the line than any singular banner or publicity still could convey. For the Ukrainian, this fight could mean just about everything as it pertains to the remainder of his career.

While that might seem like a big statement, one must keep in mind that this is in reference to a career where every fight was an attempt to make a big statement. From the very outset, Lomachenko made it crystal clear that he only had interest in achieving greatness.

Word quickly spread via Bob Arum, his promoter, that the two-time Olympic gold medalist had hoped to make his professional debut in a world title bout. Instead, with no sanctioning body willing to organize such a move, he had to settle for little-known Jose Ramirez (not that one...or that one, either) for his first fight.

In some respects, that was one of the only soft touches Lomachenko has taken. However, this ambition hadn't come without a cost. In just his second pro bout, Lomachenko faced titlist Orlando Salido, dropping a close, somewhat controversial loss in a foul-filled fight. In a matter of months, you saw the ambition Lomachenko possessed and the toll that can sometimes come from such drive.

In many respects, this has set the tone for the career of "The Matrix". While he has been willing to take the risks and has be rewarded in kind, he hasn't been the perfect, glittering pro fighter many expected he would become when he was set to move into the paid ranks.

For just as many highs -- such as dominant wins over the ever-talented Gary Russell and former champion Jorge Linares -- he has had to endure an equaled setback -- such as losses to the aforementioned Salido and arch rival Teofimo Lopez just a couple fights back.

And as a result of all that action in such a quick burst as well as turning professional at the advanced age of 25, in less than 20 legitimate prize fights, we could be seeing the last run at world dominance for Lomachenko. In some ways, Commey could mean the falling of a Ukrainian star if things don't go Loma's way.

While it doesn't fit neatly on a promotional poster, this fight is worth everything to both men involved. A win for Commey, quite naturally, could mean he shoots straight in line for a title opportunity at 135 pounds. And if he's able to say he stopped Loma, all the better. A loss could mean Commey might be just shy of the elite level of the sport and that may well be where he remains for good.

For Lomachenko, certainly a loss derails many of his immediate future plan. However, a loss could also put into question much of what he has done, as the soon-to-be 34-year-old would fall to 15-3, with not a lot options going forward. A win, however, gives him one more shot at truly stamping his run as great and not just pretty damn good.

As mentioned, quite a bit is on the line for Vasyl, whether fair or unfair.

For all that Lomachenko has done, he has appeared for just a brief window. While the titles in multiple weight classes have been impressive, he's also fought good but not usually great opposition. One could view his career and his foe selection through a particularly harsh lens if they felt so inclined. And because he hasn't had such a sustained run of dominance throughout a lengthy career, he makes that a bit easier to justify.

Russell stands out as a great fighter, but even Russell has seemed untested at times. Linares was likely beyond his best days and even Nicholas Walters and Guillermo Rigondeaux (whom Lomachenko defeated back in 2016 and 2017, respectively) were not in optimal positions. Not Vasyl's fault, but a stern critic might not care.

Perhaps this take on his career is a bit pessimistic, but when you leave questions and go out on a less-than-impressive note, you have to face facts that this perception will exist for some. While others might remember those achievements, many will stick to the areas in which you fell short. When you have less than the average amount of fights for a typical boxer, you make it more likely people will pick every performance apart.

With much of his game based on skills and reflexes, Lomachenko may have but two or three years of his impressive prime left. Which means that if he is to go down as one of the best fighters of his generation, he will need to deal with Commey in an impressive manner and make serious moves in 2022.

If Lomachenko has a majority of the skills he gripped during the highest peak of his prime, he should be able to deal with the rugged, but typically one-dimensional Commey (he said, jinxing the quick-footed Lightweight). However, what will be most telling is what Vasyl and his team can come up with in regards to his next move.

When you're a fighter at an advanced age that's winding down a career full of chances taken, the biggest chance you'll take is always your next one. Here's hoping, for Lomachenko's sake, he has enough time and skill left in the reserve to capture magic once more.

If he does, then terms like "world championship bout" will don those promotional posters once more.

Thanks to anyone reading, I truly appreciate it. I do appreciate any and all feedback or comments. Also, if you're interested, I have predictions and breakdowns for the weekend's upcoming fights. You can check out Lomachenko-Commey here, Nonito Donaire-Reymart Gaballo here, and Sunny Edwards vs. Jayson Mama here.

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