IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC | The genius of Vasyl Lomachenko

Such can be boxing’s dependence on faux-promotion that it’s sometimes difficult to discern the diamonds from the rough.

The sport has long since been a hotbed for scepticism, consumers left to ruminate on wrangles between perception and reality.

All the more refreshing, then, are instances when the two prove one and of the same.

Vasyl Lomachenko is all killer, no filler in that regard, his credentials incomparable across boxing’s age-old opus.

From 396 amateur wins came consecutive gold medals at both World and Olympic level, his sole defeat in that span avenged twice thereafter.

No sooner had he turned pro than was he pegged for boxing’s pound-for-pound mountaintop, promoter Bob Arum first to bang the drum afront that chorus.

“He is the most technically astute fighter I’ve ever seen. This guy does things in his training like I’ve never seen before. And in the ring, it is almost like a clinic, the way he performs, and the way he sets up his opponents for knockouts. He just almost hypnotises them.”

“His father is the complete boss in the situation. He kept him in the amateurs for such a long time; he made him the best amateur ever in the history of boxing.”

That paternal narrative is itself a tale as old as time. And yet, as in most facets, the Lomachenko chapter strays somewhat from the norm.

Indeed, rather than steer his son straight into the firing line, father Antoly paved an altogether less conventional path, coaxing Vasyl to spend his formative athletic years sporting ballet shoes over boxing boots.

The inherited blend of balance and coordination would ultimately set him apart once he set his sights on the squared circle, his skills of invention flying in the face of convention.  

That same effervescence has seen him segue seamlessly to the pro game, tonight affording him the chance to snare a third world title in as many weight classes.

“I always want a challenge — always,” says Lomachenko ahead of his lightweight debut. “At 130 (pounds) we can’t organise a top fight with a champion. Then my promoter asked if I want to move to 135. After two seconds I said, ‘Of course I can. I can and I am ready.’”

It’s taken just 11 bouts to scale those lofty heights, Lomachenko by all accounts the game’s man who would be king.

His last outing against titlist emeritus Guillermo Rigondeaux all but copper fastened that coronation, the Cuban legend the fourth consecutive opponent to retire mid-fight.

One suspects that Jorge Linares will be loath to roll out the red carpet quite so freely, however, Venezuela’s three-division king the clear cream of a stacked 135-pound crop.

“I will never do that, I will never give up,” he said. “People always talk about and heap praise on Lomachenko because all of his opponents abandon (the fight).

“I’m not a boxer who abandons (a fight). He knows what he’s in for. I’m not an ordinary fighter. I’m going to shut him up, plain and simple. I know I have my advantages. I’m the natural lightweight here – he’s coming up. He needs to be ready.”

It’s an air of caution echoed by many within the fighting fraternity, Linares not alone in suggesting Lomachenko may this time have bitten off more than he can chew.

The bookmakers, for their part, are not among them, the challenger broadly installed as an unbackable favourite.

History suggests Vegas’ missteps are rare enough. We’ve come to learn that Vasyl Lomachenko’s are rarer still.

RONAN MULLEN