LOS ANGELES: Southpaw Vasiliy Lomachenko brutally knocked out former title holder Anthony Crolla in the fourth round Friday to retain his World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization lightweight titles.
The 31-year-old Lomachenko delivered a devastating right hook to the temple that sent the Englishman crashing face first to the canvas just 58 seconds into the fourth round.
The Ukrainian pound-for-pound king had his complete arsenal at his disposal, including blazing hand speed, devastating punching power and a superior ring IQ.
It turns out he didn’t need it as in the end he barely broke a sweat to retain his WBO title for the second time.
“I want to unify all the titles,” said Lomachenko, adding he wants to fight Mikey Garcia, who holds the WBC lightweight title. “I want to thank all the fans who came to support me.”
The knockout came just one round after Lomachenko scored the first knockdown of the fight when he landed a barrage of rights and lefts while the challenger was pinned and defenceless on the ropes. Lomachenko initially thought the fight had been stopped.
The crowd of 10,100 at Staples Center Arena came looking for a knockout and they got exactly that.
The knockout punch was so loud it could be heard by those sitting outside the ring.
Crolla remained face first on the canvas until his trainer came into the ring and helped him roll over. He stayed there for some time but even when he was helped to his feet his camp still had to support his wobbly legs.
Lomachenko appeared to injure his hand and was seen holding it and talking to his trainer after the fight.
Lomachenko, a two time Olympic gold medallist, improved to 13-1 with 10 knockouts as he dominated the third and fourth rounds against Crolla who was a massive 100-1 underdog.
Crolla dropped to 34-7-3 as he landed just a handful of punches and only survived the third round because of the bell.
Crolla, 32, wasn’t Lomachenko’s first choice as an opponent. Lomachenko wanted to fight IBF champion Richard Commey, but Commey suffered a hand injury.
Had Lomachenko not taken the Crolla fight, he would have been stripped of one of his 135-pound belts.
Lomachenko’s rise to the top of the boxing world has been meteoric. He fought for a world title in just his second professional fight and is the fastest fighter in history to become a three division world champion.
Crolla, who was the top ranked mandatory contender, held the WBA belt from 2015-2016.
But Crolla has now lost three of his last six fights. He lost his belt in consecutive defeats to Jorge Linares before winning three straight bouts.
Just being in the ring is a win for Crolla. Four years ago he was badly injured after confronting two men who broke into a neighbour’s house.
He broke his ankle going after the thieves and suffered a fractured skull when one of them blindsided him with a cement block while he was battling the other one.
Crolla recovered and 11 months later he won the WBA lightweight belt that Lomachenko retained on Friday. – AFP