On Saturday night at the Hulu Theater at MSG in New York, Vasiliy Lomachenko won a unanimous decision against Jamaine Ortiz, a far harder opponent than everyone anticipated.
Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KO) now has a shot at fighting undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney in 2019 because to this victory.
Significant underdog Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KO) dominated the first half of their 135-pound fight with to his better quickness, size, and jab, but Lomachenko came on strong in the second half to steal a victory.
It was given scores of 115-113, 116-112, and 117-111 by the judges.
Lomachenko, a three-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was making his first appearance in the ring in 10 months. The 34-year-old boxer and former pound-for-pound king had a contract to face then-lightweight champion George Kambosos in Australia in June, but he and his family stayed in war-torn Ukraine.
Haney, subbing for Lomachenko, agreed to two bouts with Kambosos in Melbourne and came out on top, capturing all four lightweight belts. The 23-year-old Las Vegan Haney saw Lomachenko, who had been out for a while, return and battle through the first six rounds.
In an interview with ESPN after the fight, Haney commented, “I believe it wasn’t the greatest performance.” Lomachenko also entered the ring. “I really really wish we could get it on.”
Lomachenko, whose face was swelled and who had a massive welt under his right eye, stated, “I will be ready.”
The possibility of a meeting between Haney and Lomachenko seemed to be dwindling throughout the first part of the bout. 26-year-old Worcester, Massachusetts native Ortiz shocked the boxing world by defeating heavyweight Jamel Herring through unanimous decision in May. This victory led to the greatest break of his career.
From the opening bell, Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) pressed the action, doubling and triple up on the jab to put Lomachenko at away. Because the lead hand threw off his timing, Lomachenko was unable to generate the advantageous punching angles that had propelled him to the top of his sport.
They continued to exchange heavy blows, with Lomachenko being repeatedly deterred by a right hand to the body from Ortiz whenever he seemed to have an opportunity. But as is typical for Lomachenko, he shifted into high gear in the second part of the battle, coinciding with Ortiz’s weariness in his first 12-round fight.
The lightning-quick combinations of Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) started to land, and they broke up Ortiz’s face with crisp right hooks and sweeping lefts. As a result of his dominance in the last six rounds, Lomachenko was declared the winner by two of the three judges.
It seemed like I had the battle won,” Ortiz remarked. “The decision has been made. It seemed like tonight was going to be my lucky one.”
But it wasn’t, despite the fact that Ortiz’s reputation rose even in loss. He didn’t even come close to winning, but he guaranteed himself a big fight in 2019.
Meanwhile, Lomachenko acknowledged that he has to be more active to perform at his best. He hadn’t fought since December 2021, when he defeated Richard Commey by unanimous decision, when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
When facing Haney, another bigger, athletic fighter with perhaps the strongest jab in the world, Lomachenko will need to raise his game to a whole new level. He performed enough on Saturday to keep his spot and get closer to the bargaining table for a bout that might bring him closer to his goal of becoming the undisputed champion.
The definitive lightweight title clash that all fight fans want to witness is Haney vs. Lomachenko, and Top Rank chairman Bob Arum has said that they would do everything in their power to make it happen. They are the best lightweights in the world, therefore it would be an awesome fight.