Lomachenko evokes ‘No Mas-Chenko’: What’s next for Kambosos?

Boxing

Vasiliy Lomachenko delivered a vintage performance on Sunday in Perth, Australia, to become a champion once again, proving he’s still one of the sport’s elite.

Lomachenko (18-3, 12 KOs) has undoubtedly been one of the world’s finest boxers since June 2014, when he became a champion in just his third pro fight. From that dominant performance against Gary Russell Jr. to Sunday’s 11th-round TKO victory over George Kambosos Jr. to capture the vacant IBF lightweight title, Lomachenko remains otherworldly.

This stoppage win over Kambosos — Lomachenko’s first since June 2021 — was a reminder of the Ukrainian’s greatness at age 36. This is Kambosos’ third loss, but his previous two defeats came via decision against Devin Haney. And Kambosos owns a win over Teofimo Lopez, ESPN’s 2021 Upset of the Year.

Lomachenko became the first fighter to finish the Australian and did so in fashion. He broke down Kambosos with a string of sharp lefts, bloodying the right eye. Lomachneko finally floored him with a left hand to the body, followed by a flurry that forced the corner to toss in the towel.

“He’s a legend of the sport,” Kambosos said. ” … He’s one of the best fighters in history.”

That’s not hyperbole, of course. The two-time Olympic gold medalist is a future Hall of Famer, and coming off the disappointment of his disputed decision loss to Haney one year ago, Lomachenko is building momentum once more.

He could find his next opponent in a week. On Saturday, Emanuel Navarrete meets Denys Berinchyk for the vacant WBO lightweight title in San Diego.

Navarrete is a sizable favorite to become a four-division champion, and Top Rank is looking to match the Mexican with Lomachenko later this year. It’s a fascinating clash of styles. Navarrete is a whirlwind at 5-foot-7 with a 72-inch reach.

Lomachenko proved Sunday he still possesses the reflexes to fire through openings when they present themselves. He can still elicit memories of No Mas-Chenko, the man who made opponent after opponent quit on the stool during his time as the pound-for-pound king. And with a title back around his waist, he seems primed for one final run at the top of the sport.

— Coppinger


Kambosos’ career now hangs by a thread; what’s next for him?

Kambosos was fully aware of the monumental stakes at play when he stepped into the ring to fight pound-for-pound superstar Lomachenko.

He knew victory would cement his legacy as an Australian boxing icon, a world champion who would have produced not one, but two of the most stunning upsets of the era, against a pair of generational fighters. Kambosos argued ad nauseam such achievement would be enough to see him secure a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, an honor only bestowed on five of his countrymen. Victory would have also opened the door to further championship fights at 135 pounds.

But Kambosos also knew that a loss to Lomachenko would signal the end of the road for his international boxing career. And on Sunday afternoon, after being humiliated on home soil for 11 rounds, Kambosos cut a dejected figure as he left the ring, knowing his career now hangs by a thread.

For Kambosos, Sunday’s loss to Lomachenko will see him plummet down the lightweight pecking order, sitting dangerously on the precipice of irrelevance, not just in the division but the boxing world. It’s unlikely Kambosos will fight for another world title, but he has no regrets about taking the fight.

“I tried my best. I had the best preparation. I gave everything in training camp and unfortunately it wasn’t enough today, but it is what it’s. I stepped to the best. I fought the best. You take a loss,” Kambosos told ESPN. “He a true champion. He’s a legend of this sport and I give him utmost respect. I never disrespected him. I always gave him the respect and we knew what we were coming up against.”

Kambosos’ win over Lopez will never be taken from him, but Sunday’s latest loss — his third in four fights — proved that winter night at Madison Square Garden was an anomaly of the highest order.

The Australian hasn’t looked close to a world champion-caliber fighter since then. Not only has he been outboxed in each of his past four fights, but he’s also been unable to problem-solve in the ring and show any signs of shifting momentum when things aren’t working in his favor.

Kambosos’ promoter Lou DiBella spoke earlier in the week about the possibility of his man stepping up to junior welterweight for a rematch against Lopez. The one caveat was that he had to show that he remains a world-class fighter. His performance against Lomachenko did nothing of the sort. Kambosos was outclassed from the opening bell until Lomachenko landed a flurry of punches to force his corner to wave the white flag.

— Michaels

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