In the co-main event of the June 21st edition of Showtime Boxing, slowly rising prospect, Gary Russel Jr. took on Olympic standout, Vasyl Lomachenko in a Featherweight bout for the vacant WBO title. The match-up was significant for several reasons, but it was the difference in styles that had fans picking this as the most interesting fight of the night. After all, Lomachenko is coming off a loss to veteran fighter Orlando Salido, and Russell Jr. has often been criticized for the level of opposition he’s faced up to this point of his career. While Lomachenko was chasing history, Russell was determined to prove that he is indeed the next great American talent.
At the sound of the opening bell, it was immediately clear that Lomachenko is the toughest match-up of Russel’s career. Lomachenko’s slick foot and head movement was frustrating Russell early, and Lomachenko appeared to be landing the more effective shots throughout.
This was a pattern that continued throughout the fight and ultimately became the narrative of the bout. Russell was far from just accepting his defeat however. For all twelve rounds, both fighters engaged in constant combat in what at times was an absolute chess-match of brutality. Russell would answer the bell with a volley of blows, but Lomachenko remained patient in picking his shots and eventually taking over the rounds.
The fight ultimately came down to a battle of stats as Russell was the far more active puncher, but Lomachenko was effective at actually landing his shots. Although the pattern between the fighters remained the same, Russell’s punch output began to decline while Lomachenko still seemed fresh. Even worse for Russell was the fact that Lomachenko began ripping brutal shots to the body of Russell as he took reigns of the momentum and became the aggressor.
After twelve competitive rounds, all of those at home and ring-side (aside from a single judge) scored the bout in favor of the Ukrainian. Vasyl Lomachenko was awarded the Majority Decision victory on scores of 114-114, 116-112, and 116-112. Following the decision one can’t help but question how this type of Lomachenko performance came by surprise. Is Lomachenko really that good, or was Gary Russell Jr. just the latest fighter to succumb to his own hype? Perhaps a bit of both, but the one thing that can’t be questioned was the guts both fighters showed for twelve rounds. Even if their careers take opposite paths, Russell and Lomachenko have proven to be fighters worth keeping an eye on.