By Joseph Hammond
Oxon Hill, Maryland -- Vasyl Lomachenko solidified his place as the greatest current pound-for-pound fighter in the world, earning a dominant win over a game Jason Sosa this past weekend in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Sosa’s corner threw in the towel after Round 9.
Some 2,828 mostly Ukranian fans were there to cheer on the action.
Before the fight, Lomachenko had made a great deal about how he and Sosa had behaved like gentleman in their Twitter accounts.
All of that went out the door when the dominant Lomachenko took a page out of the Roy Jones playbook and started showboating almost from Round One.
Lomachenko calls himself “Hi-Tech,” and it does seem he is in a different sport these days. At some moments he seemed to mock Sosa, pantomiming a matador, the trajectory of Sosa’s wild shots, and even the impact of one of his own body punches on Sosa.
It was all too much for Sosa, who proved he has an incredible chin by taking nearly every punch that was thrown at him by the Ukrainian boxer.
Lomachenko’s past opponents have struggled to prevent him from “crossing the T” and attacking them from a new angle. Sosa showed a knack at times for holding onto or digging his elbow into his opponent's shoulder to prevent this. But Lomachenko adjusted to make sure he maintained his control of the ring.
The fight card was the first ever held at the new MGM Grand Hotel and Casino at National Harbor. The venue is a stone’s throw from Washington D.C., and the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building are all visible across the Potomac River from the venue.
In the first Ukranian fight, Oleksandr Usyk entered the ring wearing a Baltic Crusader t-shirt while receiving the full support of the mainly Ukranian crowd. Mike Hunter, his opponent, stepped up against tremendous odds and won the first round and the second round.
By the third, Uysk seemed to have figured out Hunter, and began landing more freely. In the exchanges, Usyk’s heavy hands were the difference maker. The action was stopped in the fourth for a low blow, and by then, Uysk was in command.
Hunter displayed an awful habit of backing straight up after throwing a combination of punches, putting him in the line of Usyk’s attack. Hunter landed a good uppercut in the seventh, but it was largely a one-off against Usyk’s effective punching to the body. Round Nine also went to Hunter on the DSH card.
In Round 12, Usyk unleashed his attack and scored a knockdown when the referee correctly ruled that the ropes held up Hunter. This move was criticized online, but given that the end of the fight was moments away, Hunter had a right to finish the fight on his feet.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk's fight against Yunieski Gonzalez was in many ways the most surprising bout of the evening. Gonzalez was billed as an American fighter to keep with the USA versus Ukraine promotional theme, but Gonzalez originally hails from Cuba.
Initially, it looked like this could be a competitive fight, but Gvozdyk saw an early opening in the way Gonzalez loaded up with his wild right hand. Gvozdyk spied an opportunity and sent Gonzalez to the canvas. Gonzalez had determination in his eyes and kept getting off the canvas each time, but the fight was wisely waved off.
In another undercard fight, welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas (16-0, 13 KOs), of Kaunas, Lithuania, knocked out Mexican Ramses Agaton (17-3-3, 9 KOs), in Round Four, as the Lithuanian's powerful right hands were too much. Agaton was down twice in the third, and was stopped in the fourth.
Maryland’s own Patrick “YG Pat” Harris won a unanimous victory (80-72 on all cards) over Mexican Omar Garcia in a superlightweight bout. Harris improved to 10-0 with the win.
Jesse Hart, the pride of Philadelphia, showed that although he is not yet a technically complete fighter, he is one of the more promising prospects Philly has produced in recent years. He improved to 22-0, using his natural gifts of a 6’3" frame and a 77.5 inch reach to his advantage to stop Alan Campa. Campa took a brutal uppercut on the inside which put him into a backpedal and caused his corner throw in the towel.
Hart's win contrasted with another bout in which a fighter did not know how to use his physical advantages. In the next bout of the evening, Reyes Sanchez, a 5'11" super lightweight with a 73-inch reach, did not win a round in a unanimous 99-91 loss to Michael Reed. Reed found time to groove to the James Brown music playing in the venue after Round Three, and later hurt Sanchez in the sixth, as cruised to the decision win.