Every so often a boxer comes along who transcends their division, even their sport. A fighter who captures the imagination of the public. Mohammed Ali, Mike Tyson, and now, Vasyl Lomachenko.
The Ukrainian’s rise through the paid ranks of boxing has been nothing short of spectacular. No one can accuse him of taking the step to Professional too soon, this is a fighter who amassed 100 career wins, including two Olympic gold medals in his Amateur days.
Lomachenko takes on Jose Pedraza in a Lightweight unification bout in New York’s Madison Square Garden on 8th December 2018. The level of excitement, even among non-boxing fans is palpable. This is your guide to the fight.
Who is Jose Pedraza?
If you're just looking at the odds, Jose Pedraza (17.5) doesn't have much of a chance.Though he began his professional career seven years ago and has fought 26 times. He's only lost once. A year ago, the Puerto Rican lost to Gervonta Davis in a huge upset that threatened to derail his career.
However he now faces Lomachenko as a World Champion in his own right so he certainly deserves to be in the ring. Yet his opponent has caught the world's imagination with his rise to the top.
Much has been made about Lomachenko’s unusual training regime, his years spent dancing as a teenager. There’s no doubt he’s a fearsome fighter. Four consecutive opponents sat on their stool rather than continue fighting, and that includes double-gold medal winning Cuban, Guillermo Rigondeaux.
You’ve only got to watch his highlight reel to see how his movement flummoxes his opponents. He never seems to resort to slugging it out, he’ll almost use his opponents guard as a shield to block his movements. Most of his opponents never see the knockout blow coming.
Pedraza will have to draw on every ounce of experience for his hand to be raised after the fight. Can he do it?
Despite the odds being massively in favour of Lomachenko, Pedraza is no pushover. He’s boxer with a few tricks of his own. In his last fight he went from southpaw, orthodox and back to southpaw in a performance that saw him snatch the WBO Lightweight belt from Ray Beltran.
His performance that night earned him his shot at Lomachenko. Pedraza certainly deserves it but he’ll need to dig deep. He’ll need to be at his very best to find the weaknesses in Lomachenko.
Two Southpaws face off
Of course, the meeting of two left-handed boxers is interesting in itself, but they have different styles. Pedraza has powerful punches in his locker. He likes to act first and control the situation. Jose’s problem is that he doesn’t have the most reliable defence. In his loss to Gervonta Davis, the Puerto Rican couldn't connect often enough. Lomachenko will be looking to exploit that.
What Jose can offer? The main task for a boxer from the shores of the Caribbean - find opposition to the speed of the Ukrainians. Otherwise, the fight will be short. Goal №2 - look for the slightest opportunity to use the left cannon. As the last fight of Lomachenko against Jorge Linares showed, Vasily’s defence is not impregnable and the knockdown in the 6th round is a clear confirmation of this.
How to watch Lomachenko v Pedraza
Depending on where you live, you may be able to watch this boxing match live on television. Most countries will be able to buy the pay-per-view stream through ESPN.