Maaaaaaaybe Vasyl Lomachenko’s 130-pound debut went A-OK. On HBO Saturday night, he scored one of the best knockouts of 2016, taking out veteran contender Roman Martinez with a sensational uppercut-hook combo.
Martinez went head-to-head with Orlando Salido twice, fought Juan Carlos Burgos, Diego Magdaleno, Ricky Burns and others and only lost by knockout one other time, to Mikey Garcia. Lomachenko moved up from 126 and looked more powerful for it, rather than undersized.
Not to say Martinez made it easy. By sheer hard work and concentration, he was able to connect on the occasional hard shot with the slippery, elusive former amateur great. Once, Lomachenko looked a tiny bit shook, and he had marks on his face after the fight ended.
But boy, how did he end it. That left uppercut in the 5th might’ve dropped Martinez anyway, but the sweeping right he landed behind it put him on his back. You knew it was over instantly, although Martinez made an effort to rise.
And to be clear about it, Lomachenko was putting on a boxing clinic for all but a couple seconds every round. That Lomachenko is delivering performances in like this in just his seventh fight is pretty amazing. He wants a rematch with Salido, who gave him his only defeat in a close fight. Let’s get it.
On the undercard, lightweight super-prospect Felix Verdejo looked pretty good, although his opponent, Juan Jose Martinez was exactly the kind of guy to make him look that way. He, too, finished matters in the 5th round, flurrying a semi-hurt Martinez along the ropes to force the ref to step in and stop it.