Manchester’s ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla has landed the golden ticket as he gets to face pound-for-pound superstar Vasyl Lomachenko on April 12 for a shot at ‘Hi-Tech’s’ WBA ‘Super’ and WBO lightweight titles.
Although Loma is a household name and arguably the biggest boxing star in the world, BBN set out to discover 10 interesting facts that you might not already know about the Ukrainian:
The pound-for-pound boxing star was born Vasyl Anatoliyovych Lomachenko on February 18, 1988 in the Black Sea port of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi in southwestern Ukraine. The 2,500-year-old town, Lomachenko says, is mentioned in Greek mythology and has one of the largest fortresses in the region, which is so fitting that it has produced and raised a sportsman with an impenetrable defence.
His parents were both instrumental in his sporting vocation. His mother, Tetiana, was a gymnastics instructor and his father, Anatoly, a PE teacher and amateur boxing coach, who coached Vasyl from a very young age and, without his influence, he would have chosen to play ice hockey professionally. His father did not let him train for boxing until he attended traditional Ukrainian dance classes, travelling the country with national dance troupes. He then went on to gymnastics before finally getting into the ring for the first time. He also played football, wrestling and the Russian mixed-martial arts of Sambo.
He remembers little else from his childhood except boxing practice, it’s said he first entered a boxing gym aged four, even pictured with a pair of boxing gloves when only three-days-old, but he didn’t have his first fight until nine-years-old, after his strict apprenticeship in dancing was served – his father taught him footwork first, punching after.
Not just a sporting scholar, he graduated from the South Ukrainian Pedagogical University, and despite never needing a proper job, he did sell ice creams in the summer during his childhood.
G(A)OAT – The Greatest (Amateur) of All-Time
His amateur achievements of winning 396 from 397 bouts and seven golds plus one silver at major championships is unrivalled.
However, one of his greatest amateur accolades was being awarded the Val Barker Trophy in 2008 after the Beijing Olympics, when he won gold. The winner of the prestigious award, named after the 1891 British ABA heavyweight champion, is selected by a committee of International Amateur Boxing Association officials and presented to the outstanding pound-for-pound boxer during the Games. Of the 20 recipients, six went on to win professional world titles – Nino Benvenuti; Patricia Oliva; Roy Jones Jr; Vassiliy Jirov; Loma himself; and Claressa Shields. He was a very strong candidate to win the award a second time, but it was given to Kazakh Serik Sapiyev instead, who won gold at welterweight at London 2012.
His two Olympic achievements are tattooed on each of his biceps and an image of his father, affectionately referred to as ‘Papachenko’, inked onto his torso.
The British Connection
The Ukrainian has several ties to the UK – In 2008, he bagged the European Championship in Liverpool, aged 20; in the 2009 World Championships in Milan, he defeated Welshman Craig Evans with a wide score of 15-1 at the second series stage; then he triumphed over British Lionheart Sam Maxwell in the World Series Boxing in Kiev in 2013, which completed a double over the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, having already beaten the London-born boxer at Bethnal Green’s York Hall previously.
His sole conqueror in his astounding amateur career was Russian Albert Selimov, who scalped him in the 2007 World Championships final in Chicago, which denied him gold for the only time. However, his solitary defeat was avenged twice.
That loss motivated the youngster to only ever come first, despite his already amazing amateur pedigree, and his dream of becoming Olympic champion was realised soon after. He said, “The biggest moment of my amateur career was after I got gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, as it was my dream of all my childhood.”
His only pro loss was at the hands of Orlando Salido for the WBO world featherweight title in his second fight. Salido was the reigning champion as Loma attempted to make history by bagging a world title in the fewest professional fights, but the titleholder came in over 2lbs above the weight limit, forfeiting his right to win the belt, and rehydrated four weight classes up to welterweight by fight night. Despite persistent low blows from the Mexican and Loma outlanding 164 punches to 142, he lost on a split decision, and although he didn’t beat Thai boxer Saensak Muangsurin’s record, he equaled it in his next fight when he defeated Gary Russell Jr to land the WBO featherweight crown. He then went on to eclipse Japan’s Naoua Inoue’s feat of becoming the quickest two-weight world champion when he obliterated Rocky Martinez in five in his seventh start. Not satisfied with that, his 11th-round stoppage of Jorge Linares has now made him the quickest in history to become a triple-weight world champion.
He is managed by Egis Klimas, who also manages Oleksandr Usyk, and promoted by Bob Arum. He chose Top Rank simply because “they offered the best deal for me”, in his own words. He trains with fellow countryman Dmytro Mytrofanov (3-0-1), who is his preferred sparring partner and his cutman is Russ Anber.
The talented Egis Klimas-managed stable currently boasts an undisputed cruiserweight champion, triple-weight champion, two-time light-heavyweight world champion, and a combined record of 221-7-2 over 20 fighters.
Known as ‘High-Tech’ for his revolutionary new age training drills – he can often be seen shadow boxing on a skateboard!
He was dubbed ‘NoMasChenko’ after forcing Cuban stylist Guillermo Rigondeaux to quit on his stool after the sixth-round, the fourth opponent in a row forced to retire! ‘The Jackal’ only landed 15 punches during the 18 minutes of ring time.
He’s also known as ‘The Matrix’, after the Keanu Reeves apocalyptic science fiction trilogy, where he has the ability to see things before they happen.
The new age boxing training techniques – conceived, orchestrated and monitored by his father, with help from a psychologist – is famously idiosyncratic. It includes street skating and juggling, handstands and tennis, which Lomachenko often plays solo, sprinting around the net to return his own lobs. There are marathons and 10K swims in open water. Sparring sessions are comprised of 15 four-minute rounds with 30 seconds of rest in between. Fresh sparring partners jump in every three rounds, where the volume and speed of punches thrown are recorded and calibrated through computer chips in his hand wraps. He has been known to throw up to 3,000 punches over 15-rounds of sparring.
His swimming training includes holding his breath underwater and his father has openly admitted in interviews that he once held his breath for over four minutes during his training for the Olympics.
The combined record of his 13 opponents including forthcoming challenger Anthony Crolla stands at an impressive 411-31-16. He has stopped nine of his 13 ring rivals, only completing 115 of a scheduled 154 rounds, resulting in a 69% KO ratio.
The 31-year-old is 5feet 7inches tall or 1.7metres, has a reach of 65 ½” or 166cm, and his star sign is Aquarius – known for their independence, strength, intelligence and unpredictable behaviour.
These are a Few of my Favourite Things
Loma’s favourite food is Italian, he likes to listen to deep house, and his dream car is a Pagani Zonda R.
He has one child with his wife Elena, named Anatoly, after Vasyl’s beloved father, and he has a sister called Anastasiia. Both his sister and wife are keen gymnasts and acrobats.
He likes to keep his personal life separate, away from the cameras and exposure that his professional boxing career attracts. Outside of boxing, he loves to fish and hunt. He also likes to play hockey and basketball.
He lives and trains in Oxnard, California, which he favours because it reminds of the small town he grew up in.
Roll of Honour (Amateur)
2004 – Gold at Cadet European Championships (Atomweight)
2006 – Gold at Junior World Championships (Flyweight)
2007 – Silver at World Championships (Featherweight)
2008 – Gold at European Championships (Featherweight)
2008 – Gold at Beijing Olympic Games (Lightweight)
2009 – Gold at World Championships (Featherweight)
2011 – Gold at World Championships (Lightweight)
2012 – Gold at London Olympic Games (Lightweight)
Roll of Honour (Professional)
2013 – WBO International featherweight title
2014 – WBO World featherweight title
2016 – WBO World super-featherweight title
2018 – WBA ‘Super’ World lightweight title
2018 – The Ring magazine lightweight title
2018 – WBO World lightweight title
This article was written by @TimRickson