Society’s obsession with credential-ism is mirrored by the boxing worlds various sanctioning bodies alphabet vacant and interim titles which dubiously bestow the title of ‘world champion’ on fighters. These paper championship belts are now woven into the business fabric of boxing. They are essentially bargaining chips which are used as leverage to sell fights to the fans. Another of their principal purposes is to secure up and coming boxer’s big fights and even bigger paydays.
Vasyl Lomachenko, the Ukrainian double Olympic and World Amateur Champion certainly has the credentials which legitimize the hype that surrounded his professional debut on the undercard of the Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez WBO Welterweight title fight at the Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, last Saturday night.
Promotional expediency will see him propelled into a prizefight in his very next contest, where he will challenge the recently crowned featherweight champion, Orlando Salido, for his title as early January 2014. A shot at a legitimate world title mere months into his professional debut is premature to say the least. It is also a testament to how highly rated he is by Top Rank. Yet regardless of his obvious world class pedigree and talent, it represents a risky move by Bob Arum to pair his next potential star in the making up with such a battle hardened warrior as the big punching Mexican in only his 2nd fight in the pro ranks.
Salido, who incredibly turned pro at just 15, has been around the block many times before. At 32 years of age, he is now a veteran of the featherweight division after winning his 3rd title at 126lb in his 7 round destruction of Orlando Cruz, last Saturday on the same card Lomanchenko made his debut.
Lomanchenko is more of a cultured and classy boxer and although he does have a crowd pleasing style, he is not renowned for being an explosive knockout puncher. Despite going (6-0) in the International Boxing Association’s World Series of Boxing, which is closely aligned to the professional game in terms of the point scoring system and the absence of head guards, he did not knock any of his opponents out. So he will struggle to KO the typically resilient and durable Salido, who is renowned for his ability to absorb tremendous punishment. This stubborn punch resistance allied to his extensive experience and considerable punching power is a potent mix. Lomachenko will have to use all of his craft and tactical nous not to get dragged into a war by the wily veteran.
On the other hand, perhaps Salido’s brawling, ‘hit and get hit’ style could be the perfect platform for Lomachenko to take centre stage and put on a boxing exhibition that would have the purists purring in delight. It would also give Lomachenko a valid Championship credential in only his 2nd professional contest that could be used as currency to secure the Ukrainian amateur legend lavishly prosperous prizefights in 2014 and beyond.
Luckily for Lomachenko, the obligation of Bob Arum to unearth a new star and his impeccable amateur credentials has allowed him to forego the familiar follow route taken by fellow up and coming boxers who must 1st fight for alphabet interim and vacant titles before finally earning the right to prove their credentials in proper prizefights.