Lomachenko took a punch below the belt and lost: the most scandalous fight of a Ukrainian boxer. How it happened
On the night of May 21, former Ukrainian world champion in three categories Vasyl Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) may become the owner of four lightweight belts belonging to American Devin Haney (29-0, 15 KOs). And we decided to recall Loma's first fight for the professional title, which ended in a scandalous decision by the judges and the defeat of the Akkerman.
On March 1, 2014, in his second fight in the pro ring, Lomachenko was brought to the championship fight against an experienced Mexican, world champion Orlando Salido. At stake was the WBO belt, which at the time of signing the contract was held by the 33-year-old Salido, but at the weigh-in he did not meet the featherweight limit (57.2 kg) and was forced to leave the title vacant.
In San Antonio, where the fight took place, the two-time Olympic gold medallist was going to take the new "league" by storm and immediately set a record in professional boxing. If he won, the fighter from Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi could become the first world champion in his second fight.
Despite the fact that Salido was more experienced than the 26-year-old Vasyl, the Ukrainian fighter was still the favourite with bookmakers. Bets were accepted on him at odds of 1.20, and on the Mexican's victory at 5.0.1
Salido, who weighed over 58kg at the weigh-in, entered the ring with 67kg, while Lomachenko only made it to 62kg. The fight began cautiously on the part of the challenger, but gradually the faster and more manoeuvrable Ukrainian began to increase the pressure, working at medium distance.
Feeling that he was losing control of the fight, the Mexican began to act more aggressively in the middle of the confrontation, putting pressure on his opponent with the help of anthropometric data and dirty tricks that for some reason were not closely noticed by the referee in the ring, Laurence Cole. To slow Lomachenko down, Salido regularly punched below the belt, but did not receive any well-deserved remarks.
In the final rounds, the fighter from Akkerman regained the advantage, and at the end of the fight he went on the attack. With a left punch, he managed to uncoordinate Salido, who even fell forward a little, but managed to recover in the clinch.
Another powerful left hand showed that the Mexican's strength was running out. Loma demonstrated his technical superiority over his opponent, but the experienced Salido held on by the skin of his teeth. In addition, at a critical moment for Orlando, the referee intervened and made a comment to the Ukrainian for Salido's constant violations.
In the end, Orlando still made it to the bell. Another unpleasant surprise awaited Lomachenko when the judges' notes were announced after 12 rounds. The Mexican won by separate decisions - 116:112, 115:113 and 113:115. And Lomachenko failed in his quest for the fastest championship in history.
It must be said that the boxing world had a rather mixed reaction to the judge's decision in favour of the former champion. A scandal began to break out, and a number of reputable experts and publications believed that the newcomer to pro boxing was, if not robbed, then definitely underestimated. Thus, according to YahooSports, the Ukrainian won with a score of 115:113.
And, naturally, there were a huge number of complaints about the referee in the ring, who turned a blind eye to the Mexican's dirty tricks. The analysis of the fight showed that Salido struck Lomachenko 41 blows below the belt, but was not punished for these violations.
There was even a theory among the fans about a conspiracy against Vasyl. Allegedly, the people with power in the boxing world decided to teach Lomachenko a lesson, as he was too eager to achieve what most fighters have been working towards all their lives in two fights.
Salido, who after boxing went into politics and became a deputy in Mexico, then talked about his cunning tactics for the fight with Lomachenko and underestimating his opponent.
"Back then I was a more experienced and hardened boxer and I worked perfectly on his body and head. I showed Lomachenko the difference between professional and amateur boxing. He was not ready for my fighting style. I think Vasyl underestimated me and wasn't ready for the real Mexican style. I taught him a lesson. I was stronger than Lomachenko, not bigger. I won thanks to my skills and experience, not my size," Orlando said.
At first, Lomachenko took the blame for the loss on himself, as he did not do much of what his father, the coach, demanded of him: "I did not do forty per cent of the work, namely, I could not throw punches."
However, he later said that he disagreed with the judges' decision: "I didn't lose that fight to Salido. What did I learn from it? That this is professional boxing, not amateur boxing. If your opponent is fighting you dirty, you need to fight dirty as well. You can't leave everything to the judges' discretion."
Vasyl also admitted that his defeat by Salido haunted him for a long time, but at the same time it shook him up and showed him the true state of affairs in professional boxing.
"I keep thinking about that fight. Would I like to box him again? I can't answer that question. I don't think I would want to change anything. That fight shook me up a lot. I was too confident in my abilities, that I could do everything, that I could decide everything myself, and that everything depended on me. The defeat by Salido left an imprint. And during training, you use this imprint. It's hard for you, you want to finish the training, but you remember this defeat and think: "No, I need to work on it so that it doesn't happen again," Lomachenko said.
It should be noted that in his third professional fight, the fighter from Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi achieved his goal - he defeated American Gary Russell and became the WBO world champion, repeating the record for the fastest title win.
On the night of May 20, 2023, Lomachenko will fight the WBC, WBA Super, IBF and WBO lightweight championship belts holder Devin Haney (29-0, 15 KOs). The broadcast is scheduled to start at 6:00 a.m. Kyiv time on Sunday.
Ukrainian TV channels have not scheduled the match. The fight will be available on ESPN+ in the US and plus.espn.com. The fight will be available on pay-per-view and will cost $59.99 (2,200 UAH).
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