Lomachenko & Navarrete Picks Up Wins on ESPN
New York, NY (December 9th, 2018)–Pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko had accomplished so much in his first dozen pro fights by winning world titles in three weight classes and setting a variety of all-time boxing records along the way, but there was one thing that had eluded him: unifying belts.
The brilliant Lomachenko can now check that box on his bucket list.
Lomachenko scored two knockdowns in the 11th round and methodically dominated Jose Pedraza to unify two lightweight world titles on Saturday night in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The sellout crowd of 5,312 cheered wildly when Lomachenko decked Pedraza twice in the penultimate round to put the cherry on top of his overwhelming display. In the end, one judge scored the fight 119-107, and the two other judges had it 117-109. ESPN had it 118-108 for Lomachenko, who, like Pedraza, was making his first title defense.
“It was my dream to unify titles,” Lomachenko said. “It was my next goal. I can now focus on my next chapter.”
Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs), 30, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, was fighting for the first time since May 12 in the main arena at Madison Square Garden, where he survived a sixth-round knockdown and knocked out Jorge Linares in the 10th round to win a lightweight world title in his first appearance in the division. He accomplished that despite tearing the labrum in his right shoulder when he dislocated it and then popped it back into place during the second round.
Soon after the fight, Lomachenko underwent surgery to repair the injury, which he and his doctor pronounced healed, allowing him to take the fight with Pedraza. He showed no issues with the shoulder and threw his right hand liberally.
“I didn’t have a problem. I’m healthy, 100 percent,” Lomachenko said. “[Pedraza is] a veteran. He did a very good job, and I respect Pedraza and his team.”
Besides the knockdowns, Lomachenko dominated in terms of throwing and landing punches against a game but ineffective Pedraza (25-2, 12 KOs), 29, of Puerto Rico.
“I am happy with my performance,” Pedraza said through an interpreter. “I went 12 rounds with the best fighter in the world. I knew what we were going up against. I thought it was a close fight until the knockdowns. At the end of the day, I am proud of what I did.”
According to CompuBox punch stats, Lomachenko landed 240 of 738 punches (33 percent), while Pedraza landed a woeful 111 of 931 (12 percent).
“I thought Lomachenko was very, very good,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “He’s coming off a layoff and the injury, but his father told me after the fight that the shoulder was terrific. It took him time to get into gear. He’s human. I think he’ll be even better next time.”
The fight began slowly with the fighters sizing each other up, but Lomachenko connected with a clean left hand, followed by a body shot late in the round. While Lomachenko, a southpaw, stayed busy in the second round and connected with his left hand, Pedraza was also busy but missed almost everything, as he was out of range and coming up short of the target.
Lomachenko knocked Pedraza off-balance with a left hand in the third round, and then Pedraza switched to a southpaw stance in the fourth round. It did not help. Lomachenko easily adjusted and landed a right hook and kept a jab in his face.
Pedraza was extremely busy in the fifth round, and perhaps Lomachenko was taking a bit of breather, but it was Pedraza’s best round of the fight.
Lomachenko had a big eighth round, landing an assortment of punches from all angles, including a flush straight left hand that had Pedraza off-balance, seemingly frustrated and backing up.
Lomachenko continued to regularly land his straight left hand in the ninth round, once again forcing Pedraza to back up.
Pedraza landed combinations in the 10th round, and one shot elicited a nod from Lomachenko as if to say that he had indeed been caught with a solid punch.
Lomachenko had a huge 11th round, scoring two knockdowns and nearly stopping Pedraza.
He hurt Pedraza with a left hand and went after him. He landed left after left as well as uppercuts and had Pedraza in deep trouble and reeling.
Pedraza was trying to roll with the shots, but Lomachenko was catching him and finally put him on the mat with a right hand to the body as Pedraza took a knee. Lomachenko continued to pound him in the long flurry before landing a left hand to the body to drop him for the second time late in the round.
Lomachenko continued to go after him in the 12th round, but Pedraza showed a big heart and made it to the final bell.
Pedraza suffered his second loss but went the distance this time. When he lost his junior lightweight world title, it came by seventh-round knockout to Gervonta Davis in January 2017. He was out of the ring for 14 months but then signed with Top Rank, moved up in weight and won a world title by unanimous decision over Raymundo Beltran on Aug. 25, knowing the winner of the fight would get Lomachenko next.
“I said before the fight, I thought Pedraza, with his style, would give Loma some trouble,” Arum said. “Pedraza fought a very intelligent fight and showed courage and smarts, and I just really enjoyed the fight. I told Pedraza and his father after the fight that even though he didn’t win, he didn’t harm himself and that there were other big fights out there for him. Maybe Pedraza against Teofimo Lopez [the top prospect who won on the undercard by first-round knockout]. It would sell the Garden out.”
Emanuel Navarrete Defeats Isaac Dogboe
Emanuel Navarrete was fighting outside of his native Mexico for the first time but never seemed unnerved by it or the fact that he would be on the biggest stage of his career when he faced junior featherweight world titlist Isaac Dogboe.
And Navarrete, the mandatory challenger, took it to Dogboe. He landed a lot of hard punches, swelled Dogboe’s face and scored an upset unanimous decision to take his 122-pound world title in the co-feature on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza lightweight unification bout on Saturday night at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Two judges scored the fight 116-112 for Navarrete and the third had it 115-113. ESPN.com also scored the fight 116-112 for Navarrete.
“Hearing those words [‘and the new world champion’] was the culmination of a dream, a culmination of all the hard work and all the sacrifices that I have made,” Navarrete said through an interpreter. “Thanks to Isaac Dogboe. I knew I’d have to be at my best.
“I hurt my right hand early in the fight, but I had the desire to be a champion and I did everything necessary to get the title, and I am very happy and proud to achieve this goal of being the world champion.”
Dogboe, a 2012 Olympian from Ghana, had burst on the scene early this year, winning an interim title by knocking out Cesar Juarez in the fifth round in January, then claiming the full title with a rousing 11th-round knockout of Jessie Magdaleno in April followed by a first-round demolition of Hidenori Otake in August. But Navarrete, a much bigger man, could not be tamed in Dogboe’s second title defense and he gave Navarrete credit.
“It was a great fight, and Emanuel Navarrete fought like a true Mexican warrior,” Dogboe said. “Champions are supposed to keep going under any circumstance, but I just couldn’t get the victory. The best man won tonight.”
The fight got off to a spirited start with several exciting exchanges in the early rounds. Navarrete suffered a cut on the left side of his hairline in the second round but he also seemed to rattle Dogboe with a right hand.
Dogboe, the shorter man, worked the body very well, but Navarrete found a home for his left hand, which he landed flush several times.
Navarrete charged after Dogboe during the fifth round, landed some right hands and had him in retreat. By the sixth round, Dogboe’s right eye was swelling. He also had swelling on the left side of his face. Dogboe applied intense pressure in the eighth round, but Navarrete withstood it and fired back.
Dogboe landed a right hand behind the head that dropped Navarrete in the ninth round, but referee Benjy Esteves did not call it because it was an illegal punch.
Navarrete (26-1, 22 KOs), 23, had Dogboe (20-1, 14 KOs), 24, in some trouble in the 11th round as Dogboe’s left eye was nearly closed and he might not have been able to see the punches coming. His legs also looked unsteady as Navarrete chased him around the ring.
In the final round, Navarrete, who won his 21st fight in a row, continued to come forward and Dogboe, whose face was a mess, grabbed on to Navarrete whenever he got close.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Navarrete landed 221 of 804 punches (28 percent) and Dogboe connected with 176 of 686 (26 percent).
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