By Paul Magno | May 14, 2018

With his tenth round stoppage of Jorge Linares Saturday night, Vasiliy Lomachenko confirmed his status as a truly special fighter. And even though the over-the-top Lomachenko cheerleading from the ESPN broadcast crew was especially cringe-worthy, it was hard to "hate" anything about the show we saw.

This was certainly a big win for Vasiliy (when did people start calling him "Vasiliy?"), but I wouldn't call it THE big one for which his career will be remembered. I never thought for a second that Linares, as good and as skilled as he is, would beat him. Forget his edge in size, a Linares who has no edge in speed or reflexes is a Linares not matched to his benefit-- and we all knew from the very first day the bout was announced that he would not enjoy those advantages against the two-time Olympic gold medalist. 

Still, Linares is an outstanding fighter and a defending lightweight champ defending against a super featherweight-- albeit an ultra-elite, transcendent super featherweight. This was hardly a "gimme" for the challenger.

At the end of the day, Lomachenko did what he was supposed to do with Linares and Linares did well enough-- even scoring a solid knockdown from a straight right hand in the sixth round-- to prove that he was not just a fall guy set up to fail spectacularly. That's enough in this day and age of manufactured winning streaks and justified paths of least resistance, to merit some real credit for Loma and his people.

The big, legacy-defining fight for Lomachenko, though, is still Mikey Garcia-- someone who DOES have the style and temperament to nullify his strengths-- and that may or may not happen in the future. In the meantime, we'll probably get a title unification at lightweight between Vasiliy and WBO champ Ray Beltran, some veteran with a name like Cristian Mijares, and lots of teasing about a Pacquiao fight that will never, ever happen. 

But Beltran and Mijares are fine for right now. There's just not that much else out there at 130-135 that needs urgent addressing or that can be realistically made because of boxing politics. 

In a perfect world, we'd be getting Garcia for Lomachenko and then Robert Easter and Miguel Berchelt while building towards a Gervtona Davis clash and then a move up to the deeper waters of 140. But we all know that boxing isn't ever a perfect world. 

Lomachenko confirmed to even the most dedicated of cynics and critics that he is, indeed, a special presence in the sport by doing what some "fearsome" beasts flat-out refuse to do-- move up and take on an elite fighter at a higher weight class. Lomachenko was no more "exposed" Saturday night than Manny Pacquiao was "exposed" by being less dominant at welterweight than he was at featherweight. 

Forget the hype machine that instinctively raises eyebrows in smart fight fans, Lomachenko is the real deal. 

Quick (S)hits:

-- For all those who have actually been in the ring and have taken punches, that fight-ending Lomachenko liver shot on Linares was nightmare-inducing.

-- I love stories like Jaime Munguia's. The boxing business twice tried to use the kid as a patsy, but he managed to punch his way to a world title, anyway. Back when the Canelo-Golovkin rematch fell apart, Team Golovkin tried to use the 21-year-old as a late replacement Mexican in a Gennady Golovkin one-man Cinco de Mayo show. The Nevada State Athletic Commission rejected the fight, however, pointing to Munguia's extremely poor level of opposition at that point . Then, when Golden Boy had to look for a late replacement to fight Sadam Ali in Ali's first WBO junior middleweight title defense, they locked on to Munguia, who had already been in the news from his ties with a Golovkin fight. It was clear what the GBP braintrust was thinking-- run circles around a strong, but clumsy and totally green battler who had just recently  been mentioned in the same breath as Triple G. But Ali, realistically, was a KO waiting to happen as a chinny, undersized junior middleweight titlist who had never even established himself as a top tier welterweight. And, on Saturday, he was paired up against a fighter with the style and power to score an upset-- who DID score the upset. Now, having avoided a grinding within the gears of the boxing business, Munguia moves forward into a top-heavy 154 lb. division with a style and temperament perfect for giving fans some quality wars.

-- Speaking of Golden Boy...Saturday was not a good night for them at all. There's no shame in Linares losing to Lomachenko, but their shitty job of matchmaking for Sadam Ali was worthy of a "Crying Jordan" meme. How in the world do you match a wild-swinging puncher against a smaller, chinny opponent?

-- Since when does HBO's Max Kellerman do public relations for Sadam Ali? His post-fight spin had Ali cast as a victim forced into fighting an unwinnable bout against an oversized killer. Just from listening to Kellerman's take, you'd think the fix was in to have Ali killed off as a champion and that Munguia wasn't actually brought in by Ali's own promoter. Plus, I'm confused-- wasn't Kellerman telling us just last week, when trying to justify Golovkin-Martirosyan, that size didn't really matter?

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