OXON HILL, Md. — The brilliant Vasyl Lomachenko did his thing Saturday night, which means he dazzled, put on a show and won easily.
Lomachenko, one of the best fighters in boxing — if not the best — after just nine professional fights, easily retained his junior lightweight world title for the second time, as he pummeled Jason Sosa for nine one-sided rounds before a sold-out crowd of 2,828 mostly Ukrainian fans cheering him on in the main event of the first boxing card at the MGM National Harbor, which opened in December.
“I came in to do my job and show everyone the ‘High-Tech’ style,” Lomachenko said through a translator, referring to his nickname. “I think I did my job really well.”
Of the passion the Ukrainian flag-dotted crowd showed, Lomachenko joked, “Maybe they like what I do in the ring. Maybe they just think I’m a good-looking guy.”
With the win, Lomachenko completed the Ukrainian sweep for the night, as his good friends and Olympic teammates, cruiserweight titleholder Oleksandr Usyk and light heavyweight contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk, also won in the other bouts featured on HBO.
After the ninth round, Sosa’s trainer and manager, Raul “Chino” Rivas, threw in the towel to save him from taking more punishment in a fight in which he did not win a single moment.
“I couldn’t really execute anything,” Sosa said. “He’s just a great fighter.”
Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs) cruised through the first round — in which the speed difference was blatantly obvious — as he did the rest of the fight. As he poked his jab at Sosa and boxed circles around him, the crowd began to chant “Loma-chenko! “Loma-chenko!”
Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) was game, but many of his punches hit nothing but air as Lomachenko used his nifty footwork to avoid anything serious in return. Lomachenko had a big second round, especially in the final moments, as he landed several shots, including a powerful left hand to the head, and seemed to have Sosa in trouble.
By the fourth round, Sosa, 29, of Camden, New Jersey, looked like he had been through 12 as Lomachenko landed punches from all angles. Sosa had zero answers and at one point in the round took a look at the big screen in the corner of the arena, most likely to see how much time was left.
Lomachenko’s dominance raged on in the fifth round, as he snapped Sosa’s head straight back with a left hand and continued to back him into the ropes and pepper him from all angles. Even when Sosa landed anything, it wasn’t solid and appeared to have no impact on Lomachenko.
The 28-year-old Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist considered by many the best amateur of all time, gave the crowd a thrill early in the sixth round, when he nailed Sosa with body shots and did a little matador dance in the middle of the ring before unloading another combination.
Lomachenko was in full control. He knew it, the crowd knew it, and Sosa must have as well. By the end of the round, Sosa’s face was showing the wear of the fight, as he had swelling around both eyes.
Referee Kenny Chevalier warned Sosa for a low blow in the seventh round, but Lomachenko shook it off and pounded Sosa with every punch in the book. Lomachenko was smiling and having a good time. Sosa? Not so much.
But Sosa, who vacated a secondary title in order to take the bout as Top Rank’s third choice when the other two turned down the fight, showed a ton of heart.
“It was a massacre, but I give Sosa a ton of credit,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said. “He did what a lot of guys won’t even do, which is go to the negotiating table. He did that and then stepped in the ring.”
Lomachenko continued a furious assault in the eighth round. He landed around a dozen unanswered punches during an extended flurry on a wilting Sosa as Chevalier gave a long look but let the fight continue. The target practice continued through the ninth round, until Sosa’s corner finally threw in the towel after the round.
“It was an accumulation of too many punches,” Rivas said. “I didn’t want to get Jason hurt. He was out of the fight.”
The CompuBox punch statistics were not surprisingly overwhelmingly in favor of Lomachenko, who landed 275 of 696 punches (40 percent) while Sosa connected on only 68 of 286 blows (24 percent).
Lomachenko wants desperately to unify titles. He could not land a unification fight when he was a featherweight titlist, so he moved up in weight. Now he hopes he will be able to unify at junior lightweight.
“I’m going to call [Top Rank chairman] Bob [Arum] and tell him I only want to fight champions,” he said. “I am going to ask if we can get any of the 130-pound champions. If they refuse to fight, I’m gonna move up to 135. I’d like to fight [titleholder Terry] Flanagan in England. [Titleholder Mikey] Garcia would be a great fight. I’d like to make that fight soon.”
There is also Orlando Salido, the former two-division titlist who handed Lomachenko a close decision loss in Lomachenko’s second pro fight. Arum wants to make that fight next, and Lomachenko is open to the rematch, even though Salido was one of the opponents who turned down fighting Lomachenko on Saturday night.
“The first time we fought it was like a third-grader fighting a 12th-grader,” Lomachenko said. “I’ve now graduated to the university, and I want to invite Salido to my university. And I’m working my way toward [unified junior welterweight world champion] Terence Crawford. I know that’s a big fight, and I know people want to see it.”
There are many significant fights out there for Lomachenko. He is ready, willing and able. But will they fight him?