Lomachenko Comes On Late For Decision Of Ortiz
First, Vasiliy Lomachenko had to get past Jamaine Ortiz to get to what he really wants, which is a shot at the undisputed lightweight championship.
The task proved to be much more difficult than expected, but Lomachenko overcame a very game effort from huge underdog Jamaine Ortiz to win a unanimous decision before a pro-Lomachenko crowd of 4,586 in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card on Saturday night at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
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The judges scored it 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 for Lomachenko, who was railing 58-56 on one scorecard after six rounds and even at 57 on the other two. Fight Freaks Unite also had it 115-113 for Lomachenko.
Lomachenko, a notoriously slow starter, went to another gear in the second half of the fight while Ortiz, in by far his biggest fight, slowed noticeably, allowing Lomachenko to take over. He won the final six rounds on two scorecards and four of the final six on the third card to pull away.
“I’m happy. I’m happy to come back in the ring and make this a great show,” Lomachenko said. “Thank you to my fans for the support. I told people before — Jamaine Ortiz is a tough fighter, he’s a good fighter. He understands boxing.”
Devin Haney Up Next?
The victory sets Lomachenko up for a likely shot in the spring against Devin Haney, the undisputed 135-pound champion, who watched from ringside and joined Lomachenko in the ring after the fight for joint interview.
But before talk could turn to Haney-Lomachenko, the three-division champion and former pound-for-pound king had to deal with the young, hungry Ortiz, with whom Lomachenko was very familiar after having him as one of his main sparring partners for five weeks during his training camp for a fight with former world titlist Richard Commey last December.
Lomachenko had not boxed since easily outpointing Commey. He was supposed to go to George Kambosos Jr.’s home country of Australia and challenge him for his unified belts in June. However, Lomachenko bowed out in the spring in order to remain in his home country of Ukraine, where he joined the military to help defend the nation against the Russian invasion.
Haney replaced Lomachenko and easily outpointed Kambosos to retain his world title and take the others from Kambosos to become the first undisputed lightweight champion of the four-belt era. He dominated Kambosos to win another lopsided decision in a rematch two weeks ago.
Ortiz Gave Loma A Challenge
Lomachenko looked bit rusty in the early going as Ortiz, filled with energy and excitement for the bout, went right after him with combinations and set a fast pace. By the end of the first round, Lomachenko had an abrasion under his right eye after he was scraped by the tape around the wrist area of Ortiz’s glove.
In the early rounds, Lomachenko, (17-2, 11 KOs), a 34-year-old southpaw, got in some solid straight left hands but Ortiz took everything and routinely fired right back.
Ortiz’s left eye began to swell in the sixth round, when he clearly began to slow down. In the seventh round, the crowd, which was dotted with Ukrainian flags, began chanting “Loma! Loma!” Ortiz then turned to a southpaw stance, but Lomachenko did not seem bothered.
Lomachenko landed a hard left uppercut early in the ninth round and had a big 10th round in which he landed lefts to the body and really picked up the pace. He landed a fight-high 16 punches in the round, according to CompuBox.
Lomachenko landed a right hand on Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs), 26, of Worcester, Massachusetts, in the opening seconds of the 11th round and later a straight left to the head-body shot combination that forced Ortiz to hold on.
In the 12th round, Lomachenko rocked Ortiz, who earned the fight by handily outpointing former junior lightweight titlist Jamel Herring and sending him into retirement on May 21, with a straight left hand that snapped his head back in the opening seconds to set the tone for another strong round.
When the fight was over the talk quickly turned to the prospect of Haney-Lomachenko. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, intends to make the match.
“The fight to make in the lightweight division is Haney versus Lomachenko, and we will do everything we can to make the undisputed championship showdown that all fight fans want to see,” Arum said. “They are the world’s premier lightweights, and it would be a fantastic battle.”
Haney and Lomachenko expressed interest in the fight before Saturday’s bout and again after.
“You know what motivated me,” Lomachenko said. “Four belts! Four belts! I will be ready.”
Haney, standing next to his likely future foe, added, “I think it wasn’t the best performance, but I know if me and Loma were to fight, we’d see a better version on the night. Congratulations, and hopefully we can get it on.”
Lomachenko, a legendary amateur and two-time Olympic gold medalist, has said repeatedly he will bow to whatever Haney wants to get the deal done.
“That’s what I like to hear,” Haney said. “I took the risk. I went over to Australia twice and everything that George Kambosos mandated to me I signed up for it. So, we’ll see when we go to negotiate.”
Lomachenko made it sounds like it won’t be hard deal to strike.
“Look, I’m ready. I’m ready for any option,” he said. “Look, he is undisputed world champion. He’s a tough fighter. That’s why he’s world champion.”