Vasyl Lomachenko hacked out a majority decision victory over Gary Russell Jr. to win the WBO featherweight title in his third professional fight. With the win, Lomachenko tied Thailand’s Saensak Muangsurin for the fewest number of fights to win a world title.

Second Time’s the Charm

Lomachenko was masterful as he overwhelmed the previously unbeaten Russell with his skill, power and size while deflecting majority of his opponent’s punches. The two time Olympic champion finally lived up to his hype after losing to Orlando Salido last March 1 in his first attempt at the same WBO featherweight belt.

In that fight, Salido repeatedly hit Lomachenko with un-penalized low blows which seemed to  take the Ukrainian star off his concentration. Lomachenko tried to rally in the latter rounds but Salido already amassed a big lead and won the bout via split decision. But because Salido did not make weight, he had already yielded the belt before the fight. Hence, the title was declared as vacant. And because of the controversial nature of his loss, Lomachenko was given a second chance at the belt.

Lomachenko made the most of his second chance. He won by the scores of 116-112,116-112 and 114-114. Most fight experts saw Lomachenko winning 118-110.

Firing Blanks

Lomachenko first staggered Russell in the fifth round by punishing him to the ropes with body shots that appeared to hurt him. Lomachenko hurt Russell again in the closing seconds of the seventh round with body shots and then dazed him with a beautiful right uppercut as Russell was pulling back. After the final bell, Russell’s face and body language was that of a beaten fighter.

According to compubox, Russell connected only 83 out of 806 punches or a measly 10%. On the other hand Lomachenko landed 183 out of 597 punches for a better 31% accuracy rate. Lomachenko also connected on 57 power shots to the midsection which prevented Russell from getting off with good combinations.

No Excuses

Rusell offered no excuses and called it a “fair decision.” He said he didn’t stick to his game plan of “initiating the action and cutting off the distance.”  He credited Lomachenko as being “strong” and said that he “would love to fight him again, any time and any place.”

But Russell may be asking too much for his own good.

Uneven Terms

Right from the opening bell, the bout was fought on uneven terms. Russell had scored 14 KOs in his 24 wins, but it was pretty clear in the first round that he had never fought somebody with the championship pedigree of Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko connected on a picture perfect three punch combo that started with a left-right to the midsection and  capped off by a hook to the head. It was what Lomachenko wanted.

Lomachenko said that he followed his game plan to perfection. He said that his team wanted him to work the body and catch the head. And he did that all night long.

Russell still had his quick hands and fast combinations. But most of  his puncheswere deflected. Lomachenko used excellent footwork to avoid Russell’s blazing fists and although Russell didn’t look frustrated, he was being outclassed by a true world class boxer.

Silencing the Critics

The clinical destruction of Gary Russell Jr. vindicated Lomachenko. He was being criticized for being given a title shot “too early ” in his pro career. Those critics claimed that there are rated contenders who have fought to earn their ranks. But Lomachenko is not an ordinary new comer.

He is regarded as the greatest amateur boxer of all-time. He finished his amateur career with two Olympic Gold medals and an eye-popping record of 396-1. And while Russell turned pro in 2009, he fought no-names and lowly competition to build up his fight record. On the other hand, Lomachenko has fought the best of the best in amateur boxing. He didn’t have to fight as long as Russell did to get his first crack at a world title. He was ready when he first came and he proved that on Saturday night.

The bout was the first to feature a top rank figher against a GBP product since Erislandy Lara faced Vanes Martirosyan in 2012. While GBP won in 2012, Top Rank’s Lomachenko evened the score. And with the newfound alliance of the two promotions, expect more fights like this in the future where the fans are the true winners.

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