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What makes Va­syl Lo­machenko so good? We try to solve the Ukrainian en­gima

John Den­nen finds out


VA­SYL LO­MACHENKO is a phe­nom­e­non. His statis­tics speak for them­selves. A twotime, two-weight Olympic gold medal­list, one Val Barker tro­phy (for be­ing the best boxer at an Olympics). In only 12 pro­fes­sional fights he has be­come a three weight world cham­pion.

His style is unique. Even those who have shared a ring with him have dif­fer­ent views on what makes him bril­liant. Ir­ish prospect Ste­vie Mckenna has re­cently sparred him. He points to Lo­machenko’s stamina and foot­work in par­tic­u­lar. “He’s al­ways con­stantly feint­ing, foot­work, he’ll move in and out,” Mckenna said. “Foot­work and tim­ing, he’s re­ally fit as well. He’s ex­cep­tion­ally fit. He keeps the same level the whole time. He doesn’t get tired or any­thing. It’s ev­ery­thing re­ally. He’s good all round. He’s ex­cep­tional, a gifted fighter.

“He’s al­ways think­ing so he’s mak­ing you think all the time. You can’t switch off against him. He’s so fast as well.”

His in­tel­li­gence within the ring is strik­ing. That’s some­thing Sam Maxwell no­ticed over the course of two five-round bouts he fought with Lo­machenko in the World Se­ries of Box­ing. “He’s got that many plans in his head. He’s just the most in­tel­li­gent boxer I’ve ever boxed. He plans three or four moves ahead. He’ll do a feint, you’ll see him do the feint and he’s just judg­ing what you’re go­ing to do. Later on in the fight you might have for­got about it but he’ll do that feint again know­ing what your re­ac­tion’s go­ing to be and he’ll counter it,” Sam said. “He’s very ac­cu­rate, his punches are very ac­cu­rate. He doesn’t waste any shots. He caught me with some good body shots as well, he’s more like a cor­rect hit­ter than a mas­sive power puncher.”

Lo­machenko doesn’t give much away. “I was born as a boxer,” he told Box­ing

News sim­ply. This is what he has al­ways done, this is what he has al­ways wanted to do. From the age of four his fa­ther, Ana­toly took him to the box­ing gym. He’s been train­ing his whole life and prac­tis­ing his tech­niques dili­gently.

Clearly his ap­proach is ex­haus­tive. He even does men­tal ex­er­cises to train his mind. “I train men­tally, I train that for if some­times I need to make very quick de­ci­sions in the ring, the men­tal train­ing helps me a lot,” he says.

He also has the spe­cial qual­i­ties, re­silience and will to win. In his last fight, against Jorge Linares, Lo­machenko dam­aged his shoul­der and had to pick him­self off the can­vas to still win by stop­page. “It was painful, so much so that I couldn’t throw my right hook. After I went on the floor in the fifth round, I had to start all over again. And then we came closer to the cham­pi­onship rounds I had to, with the pain, use my right hook to open his de­fence and find a place where I could fin­ish the bout,” the Ukrainian said. That is de­ter­mi­na­tion.

He takes his ca­reer step by step, fight by fight. “I never thought about how I’m go­ing to end my ca­reer and I can­not tell at what point I’ll want to stop. I can tell you just surely that when I’m go­ing to get tired of it, I’m go­ing to re­tire,” he said. If you want to fight like Lo­machenko, his one rec­om­men­da­tion: “I would ad­vise the fighter to go to my fa­ther and ask all the unique things, what to do and how to do it.

“He plays a big role in my ca­reer. He is the main guy, he makes the de­ci­sions. Ba­si­cally how can I de­scribe it? If you play a com­puter game, I’m a guy who’s run­ning on the TV screen and he’s the guy who’s mak­ing me do things.”

That un­der­scores the close­ness of a re­la­tion­ship, which de­vel­oped him as a fighter. “I would say this style is not my style, it’s the style of my fa­ther. Be­cause I never thought about the style. I never thought about what he was telling me. I was just do­ing, I was just re­peat­ing. He saw that, he imag­ined that and he cre­ated me with my style. I can’t say this is my style. This is the style of my fa­ther,” he said. Lo­machenko is dif­fi­cult to an­a­lyse. His weak­nesses are not ob­vi­ous and his strengths are very hard to repli­cate. Chris Con­nelly is a per­for­mance an­a­lyst for the highly suc­cess­ful GB box­ing team. The Ukrainian did turn pro­fes­sional in



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