Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing
What a year it has been for boxing. We’ve seen the return of Andre “S.O.G.” Ward and his legendary clash against Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, the dominance of Terence Crawford, and the numerous power shifts in the Heavyweight division.
With such an incredible year for boxing, there have been numerous submissions for 2016 Fighter of the Year.
Although these credible submissions featured incredible fighters such as Crawford, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, Carl Frampton and Anthony Joshua, nobody stood out quite as clearly as Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko.
Standing at 5’6,” the Ukranian champion has stormed and conquered two divisions in only eight fights, a feat never before accomplished. Loma has earned a quick reputation of being an artist with his skills in the ring.
His ring generalship combined with his hand speed, power and flawless footwork have dubbed him a triple threat as a vicious counter puncher, a devastating power puncher who will break your will as he does the same to your body, and a lightning quick boxer.
Hi-Tech has gone 2-0 this year, with both fights ending before the final bell. After shutting down little known Mexican contender Romulo Koasicha on the Tim Bradley vs. Brandon Rios undercard to end 2015, the Ukranian stormed into 2016 by moving up in weight to Super Featherweight.
As he moved up in weight, in his seventh fight, Lomachenko faced off against Super Featherweight champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez in a bout that would make history. Fight night arrived and Loma did what he is best at, dominating Rocky for four rounds before knocking him out cold and setting the record for fewest fights ever to get a strap at two different weights.
Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing
A super fight with Nicholas Walters was made quickly after that, set in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Fans marveled at the fantastic matchup between the two.
Walters, known as the hardest hitter in the Super Featherweight division took on Loma who is the smoothest fighter possibly in all of boxing. The people predicted a fireworks show that had no chance of reaching the final bell, and they were half right.
The fight ended after the seventh round, but they were easily the most one sided seven rounds I have ever seen.
According to CompuBox punch stats, Walters landed under 20 percent of his punches and was down clearly on all three scorecards before he replicated the rematch between Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran and told referee Tony Weeks, “No Mas.”
Lomachenko has accomplished more than most others could accomplish this year, knocking out both of his opponents, gaining a second title, setting a new record, climbing to the top five fighters on the pound-for-pound rankings, and embarrassing two phenomenal champions. The only other fighter close to accomplishing all of those things this year is Terence Crawford.
Crawford, although also going undefeated this year, has only fought one champion where the outcome was in question.
In no way has Crawford cherry picked any of his fights, but outside of Viktor Postol, none of his opponents were the caliber of Rocky Martinez or Nicholas Walters.
That Lomachenko could go toe to toe with both of these phenomenal fighters after under 10 fights and embarrass them the way he did, speaks volumes about his skill and is why he should be fighter of the year.
Header photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank