Contributor: Nolan Howell
Vasyl Lomachenko made Nicholas Walters quit Saturday night after the seventh round of their fight for Lomachenko’s WBO junior lightweight title. Walters looked more frustrated than hurt as he came out of his corner to congratulate Lomachenko on the win.
Walters claimed that the time off, nearly a year, made the fight hard on him. However, to anyone watching, it was clear that Lomachenko had Walters’s number from the opening bell.
1. Footwork: Negating the power right
Throughout the fight, the southpaw Ukrainian used his jab to probe inside and follow with his straight left. The early part of the fight was dominated by a simple 1-2 from Lomachenko and his perfect lefty footwork was noticeable throughout. Lomachenko kept his lead right leg to the outside of Walters’s lead left. Walters was unable to correct this throughout the fight and it cost him. As Lomachenko was able to come in with straight punches (his most notable punch outside of the 1-2 was a right uppercut that jacked the jaw of Walters a few times), Walters would load up on punches or go to the body, which seemed to be his most effective strategy this fight. However, Lomachenko would soon be gone by the time anything was thrown as he pivoted off the lead foot to the right and moved away from the power punch.
A key weapon of Walters was negated because of this and the most effective punch of the fight for him seemed to be a lead left hook to the body that would land once or twice for every six or seven shots Lomachenko would land upstairs.
As noted before, the first three or four rounds seemed to be won by Lomachenko taking the time to find his range with a simple 1-2. After gauging his range for the better part of two rounds and finding a home for his jab and straight, Lomachenko capped off the third round with a combination that would tell the story of the final three rounds. Comfortable with his distance, Lomachenko could now wade in and out of danger with Walters and began dominating the in-fighting with power punches inside and a few clinches to prevent Walters from getting anything going.
It was almost like a tale of two halves seen in football. Lomachenko took the time and arguably lost a round or two early to find his distance. His defense afforded him these opportunities.
3. Defensive Variety
Lomachenko is an always active fighter, even when he isn’t throwing punches. Feints early helped to gauge Walters’s reactions and that set up an opportunity to demonstrate his head movement as Walters threw. Early, Walters looked to set up his offensive style while Lomachenko seemed to be figuring him out. Notice in the first two rounds or so that Lomachenko dodges punches with slight slips, making Walters miss by the smallest of margins.
What was also noticeable was the lead-hand parrying of Walters’s jab by Lomachenko. Walters was able to find his jab briefly in the second round, but not at any other point in the fight. The inability for Walters to establish his eight inch reach advantage was caused by the early parrying for Lomachenko and seemingly forced Walters to abandon anything upstairs for the rest of the fight.
Also of note in the hand fighting is Lomachenko’s lead hand used offensively to set up the follow-up left, as he mentioned in his video package introduction. This hand fighting and defensive variety allowed and exploited the holes in the wilder game of Walters.
Lomachenko’s perfect grasp of boxing technique makes pieces like these a breeze for the most basic technique analyst like myself and his combination of constant activity and fundamentals make him a treat for casual and hardcore fans alike.
-Nolan can be reached @undercardnolan or at email@example.com