WHAT MAKES VASYL LOMACHENKO SO GOOD?
What makes Vasyl Lomachenko so good? We try to solve the Ukrainian engima
John Dennen finds out
I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW I’M GOING TO END MY CAREER OR AT WHAT POINT I’M GOING TO STOP”
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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