Lo­machenko shows all of his impressive tal­ent

Ukrainian re­tains his WBO ti­tle when Mar­riaga can’t an­swer bell for eighth round.

Los Angeles Times - - BASEBALL - By Lance Pug­mire lance.pug­mire@la­times.com Twit­ter: @la­time­spug­mire

Va­syl Lo­machenko’s rapid, pow­er­ful hands and im­pec­ca­ble foot­work are a sight to be­hold — ex­cept for his op­po­nent.

Satur­day night at Mi­crosoft Theater, Ukraine’s Lo­machenko pro­duced his lat­est mas­ter­piece when World Box­ing Or­ga­ni­za­tion su­per­feath­er­weight ti­tle con­tender Miguel Mar­riaga failed to an­swer the bell for the eighth round.

In re­tain­ing his WBO belt, Lo­machenko (9-1, seven knock­outs) knocked down Mar­riaga (25-3) late in the sev­enth with a punch to the head af­ter a round-long on­slaught of blows on the Colom­bian.

Mar­riaga is no slouch. In April, he gave WBO feath­er­weight cham­pion Os­car Valdez all he could han­dle in a nar­row loss at StubHub Cen­ter.

On this night, Mar­riaga was first knocked down in the third round and soon re­verted to pro­tec­tive mode as Lo­machenko con­tin­ued to pur­sue him re­lent­lessly.

“It’s very hard in box­ing when your op­po­nent is all about de­fense,” said Lo­machenko, a for­mer twotime Olympic cham­pion. “It was hard to open his de­fense. He al­ways stayed in this [cov­ered] po­si­tion.”

There wasn’t much choice con­sid­er­ing Lo­machenko’s ver­sa­til­ity and abil­ity to un­leash a pun­ish­ing flurry at any time. The first knock­down, for in­stance, was pre­ceded by a com­bi­na­tion and a left up­per­cut, then a right up­per­cut, then a hard left to the head as Mar­riaga fell back­ward to the can­vas.

Lo­machenko’s elu­sive­ness had the dou­ble ben­e­fit of frus­trat­ing Mar­riaga with his swings and misses while the con­tender was left ex­posed to scor­ing blows that Lo­machenko landed to the body.

Lo­machenko shrugged off a cut over the left eye from a fourth-round head butt, and landed blows in­clud­ing a com­bi­na­tion while Mar­riaga was backed to the ropes by re­peated right hands to the kid­neys in the sixth.

“He dom­i­nated the fight. He ba­si­cally over­whelmed me with pres­sure,” Mar­riaga said.

Lo­machenko chased Mar­riaga along the ropes in the sev­enth, then slugged him to the body, fak­ing a windup, then throw­ing the de­ci­sive punch sec­onds be­fore Mar­riaga’s cor­ner de­cided their fighter had suf­fered enough.

“I’ve never seen any­thing like this,” said Lo­machenko pro­moter Bob Arum, who has also han­dled the ca­reers of Muham­mad Ali and Manny Pac­quiao. “Not only does he have the knowl­edge, he has the skill set, the fast re­flexes.”

Arum said he’s eye­ing a Dec. 9 fight for Lo­machenko, pos­si­bly in New York, against ei­ther su­per-ban­tamweight cham­pion Guillermo Rigondeaux, for­mer feath­er­weight cham­pion Or­lando Salido or World Box­ing Coun­cil su­per­feath­er­weight cham­pion Miguel Berchelt.

“Doesn’t mat­ter,” Lo­machenko said when asked who he wants next. “Any­body.”

In the co-main event, Mex­ico’s Ray Bel­tran won a fight and a bet­ter chance to per­ma­nently re­main in the United States, de­feat­ing Costa Rica’s Bryan Vasquez by ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion.

For­mer ju­nior-wel­ter­weight ti­tle con­tender Bel­tran (34-7-1) claimed a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion vic­tory by scores of 95-95, 96-94, 96-94.

Bel­tran needed the vic­tory to en­hance his bid to re­main in the U.S. be­cause his non-im­mi­grant visa is near­ing ex­pi­ra­tion.

He’ll sub­mit a pe­ti­tion soon to the U.S. Cus­toms and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices for per­ma­nent res­i­dency as some­one with “ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­ity in pro­fes­sional box­ing,” ac­cord­ing to Bel­tran’s at­tor­ney.

“I put no pres­sure on my­self,” over the sit­u­a­tion, Bel­tran said.

“I’m very mo­ti­vated. I’m just here to fight.”

Sean M. Haf­fey Getty Im­ages

VA­SYL LO­MACHENKO, right, lands a right hand to the face of Miguel Mar­riaga be­fore a TKO.

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