Last Saturday’s lightweight title unification bout between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez opened some eyes and also served as a passing of the torch. In the bout, the 23-year-old Brooklynite and IBF titlist, Lopez, outfought and unanimously outpointed the Ukraine’s Mr. Everything, Lomachenko, to annex the WBO, WBA, and WBC Franchise lightweight titles.
As is usually– and unfortunately– the case in main stage boxing encounters, an excuse was immediately issued by the losing side. In this case, fans got the all-too-common should injury explanation.
“When he [Lomachenko] arrived to the States to prepare for the fight, he said in the Ukraine he felt the sharp pain in his right shoulder,” Lomachenko manager, Egis Klimas, told ESPN. “We took him right away to Dr. ElAttrache to examine him…We lost one week of training. We lost one week of sparring because the doctor forbid him to do much for a week after the [therapeutic] injection.”
Lomachenko reportedly underwent successful shoulder surgery the Monday after the Lopez bout and will be out of commission until mid-January.
But Klimas, of course, was eager to tell media that they “didn’t want to look like we were looking for excuses or something.”
Lomachenko, meanwhile, didn’t go where his manager went and took the post-fight high road, explaining the loss as well as he could and apologizing to his fans for the poor showing.
“I would like to apologize to everyone, apologize to my team, and thank you for all the support,” Lomachenko told news site 112 Ukraine.
“It depends on him,” Lomachenko added, referring to a rematch with Lopez. “If he can give me a rematch, then, of course, I am ready.
“It is always challenging to comment on something right after the fight. I would like to watch the fight first and then say something.
“Getting closer was quite a challenge: the size, the reach played a huge role.”
All in all, it was a tough loss for the 32-year-old Lomachenko, who has been riding high and basking in media love for the last several years as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and a generational talent. The defeat not only removes all of his titles from his possession, but it also puts him in the tough spot of either trying to get a rematch or accepting that he was bested and either moving down in weight for a title run there or waiting on Lopez to move up so he can recapture his lost belts.
On the other side of the fence, Lopez finds himself immediately shot up to the top of the boxing food chain. He’s not only a four-title lightweight champion, but, with the victory, finds himself on the pound-for-pound list ahead of Lomachenko and is being lauded as the sport’s next big thing.
It remains to be seen whether Lopez will remain at lightweight to pursue challengers there and, possibly, a rematch with Lomachenko or move up in weight to pursue a run at world titles in the junior welterweight division.
At 23, time is definitely on his side.