Vasyl Lomachenko’s rapid, powerful hands and impeccable footwork are a sight to behold — except for his opponent.
Saturday night at Microsoft Theater, Ukraine’s Lomachenko produced his latest masterpiece when World Boxing Organization super-featherweight title contender Miguel Marriaga failed to answer the bell for the eighth round.
In retaining his WBO belt, Lomachenko (9-1, seven knockouts) knocked down Marriaga (25-3) late in the seventh with a punch to the head after a round-long onslaught of blows on the Colombian.
Marriaga is no slouch. In April, he gave WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez all he could handle in a narrow loss at StubHub Center.
On this night, Marriaga was first knocked down in the third round and soon reverted to protective mode as Lomachenko continued to pursue him relentlessly.
“It’s very hard in boxing when your opponent is all about defense,” said Lomachenko, a former two-time Olympic champion. “It was hard to open his defense. He always stayed in this [covered] position.”
There wasn’t much choice considering Lomachenko’s versatility and ability to unleash a punishing flurry at any time. The first knockdown, for instance, was preceded by a combination and a left uppercut, then a right uppercut, then a hard left to the head as Marriaga fell backward to the canvas.
Lomachenko’s elusiveness had the double benefit of frustrating Marriaga with his swings and misses while the contender was left exposed to scoring blows that Lomachenko landed to the body.
Lomachenko shrugged off a cut over the left eye from a fourth-round head butt, and landed blows including a combination while Marriaga was backed to the ropes by repeated right hands to the kidneys in the sixth.
He dominated the fight. He basically overwhelmed me with pressure,
“He dominated the fight. He basically overwhelmed me with pressure,” Marriaga said.
Lomachenko chased Marriaga along the ropes in the seventh, then slugged him to the body, faking a windup, then throwing the decisive punch seconds before Marriaga’s corner decided their fighter had suffered enough.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Lomachenko promoter Bob Arum, who has also handled the careers of Muhammad Ali and Manny Pacquiao. “Not only does he have the knowledge, he has the skill set, the fast reflexes.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Lomachenko said when asked who he wants next. “Anybody.”
In the co-main event, Mexico’s Ray Beltran won a fight and a better chance to permanently remain in the United States, defeating Costa Rica’s Bryan Vasquez by majority decision.
Former junior-welterweight title contender Beltran (34-7-1) claimed a majority decision victory by scores of 95-95, 96-94, 96-94.
Beltran needed the victory to enhance his bid to remain in the U.S. because his non-immigrant visa is nearing expiration.
He’ll submit a petition soon to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services for permanent residency as someone with “extraordinary ability in professional boxing,” according to Beltran’s attorney.
“I put no pressure on myself,” over the situation, Beltran said.
“I’m very motivated. I’m just here to fight.”
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire