Vasiliy Lomachenko acted bored by the assignment of his mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla, so he responded by thrilling his fans in an all-action showcase of his power punching prowess.
The three-division champion from Ukraine overwhelmed Crolla with blistering blows Friday night at Staples Center, battering him with damage that culminated with a chopping right hand to the head that brought a fourth-round knockout.
“I want to say thank you to my doctor [Southland-based Neal ElAttrache], now I have come back 100%,” Lomachenko said in reference to the 2018 right shoulder surgery that allowed him to complement his left-handed power punches with formidable jabs and the closing punch against Crolla.
Lomachenko (13-1, 10 knockouts) retains his World Boxing Assn. and World Boxing Organization belts, and his furious work in the ring was punctuated by a bold message for the neighbor near his Ventura County training home, Oxnard’s World Boxing Council lightweight champion Mikey Garcia.
“I want Mikey Garcia,” Lomachenko said after he too drew more than 10,000 fans to Staples Center (10,101 to be specific), just as Garcia did last year in his title-unification victory over Robert Easter.
“I want to unify titles. That’s my goal. I want historic fights.”
Against mandatory WBA challenger Crolla (34-7-3), Lomachenko opened the bout with a three-punch combination to the challenger’s head. Hard left hands to the body allowed Lomachenko to cruise through the third, immediately discouraging Crolla’s plans for an upset at 18-1 odds.
Lomachenko scanned for openings, and instead of merely toying with jabs, he nailed Crolla with crushing punches to the face.
In the third round, the punishment was so relentless, referee Jack Reiss stepped in to pause Crolla for a rare standing knockdown. Lomachenko wrongly believed the fight was over, rushing to a top rope to celebrate as his manager barged into the ring.
Instead, Reiss let the action resume.
It was only for a brief time, because Lomachenko let the beating continue, sending Crolla crumbling to the canvas 58 seconds into the fourth round to end the fight.
“I wanted to give it my best, but he’s just phenomenal,” Crolla said. “The shot … robbed me of my senses.”
Lomachenko’s veteran promoter Bob Arum said, most of all, he wants Lomachenko to fight Garcia next, but Garcia might inform WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman next week that he’s vacating the lightweight title after fighting as a welterweight last month.
“He’s fantastic, unbelievable. I’ve never seen a fighter of that size be at that level, and I’ve been doing this for over 50 years,” Arum said. “It’s almost breathtaking.”
If Garcia leaves the lightweight division, the WBC will move top-ranked contender Luke Campbell into a title fight that Arum said he’d want Lomachenko to take, in England.
Arum added he wants his top prospect, unbeaten lightweight Teofimo Lopez, to meet the other lightweight champion, Richard Commey, later this year to set up a Lomachenko-Lopez meeting for all four belts in early 2020.
In the co-main event, current World Boxing Organization super-middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez of Mexico made his light-heavyweight debut a convincing triumph, stopping Pennsylvania’s Tommy Karpency (29-7-1) at the end of four rounds.
Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs) was landing his powerful left hands nearly at will as the fourth round closed, and a hard punch to the ribs — one of 83 body punches landed by Ramirez — caused too much pain for Karpency to continue.
Karpency was backed up by a hard right hand in the third, and bloodied at the nose before the rib punch he described as “a good shot.”
Karpency added that Ramirez is “equal … no better, no worse,” than some of the elite 175-pounders he’s fought, including current champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk and former champion Adonis Stevenson.
Unbeaten two-belt super-middleweight Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) sat ringside to watch Ramirez fight, and said following his own June 1 bout in New York, that he hopes to meet Ramirez in a September unification in England.
But Ramirez weighed 196 pounds on the pre-fight scale, and Top Rank executive Carl Moretti indicated Ramirez will stay at 175.
South El Monte’s unbeaten super-lightweight Arnold Barboza Jr. impressively moved to 21-0 by gaining his eighth knockout, a third-round stoppage of former 140-pound title contender Mike Alvarado of Denver.
Arum said before the fight that a victory could propel the Southland fighter to a title shot against Fresno’s unbeaten World Boxing Council champion Jose Ramirez.