In this corner with Russ Anber: 'There's Loma and then there's every other fighter''
Photo: Russ Anber with Vasiliy Lomachenko in Macao in 2014 (Russ Anber Instagram)
In his latest column, Russ Anber gives his view from the corner on working with Vasiliy Lomachenko and the Ukrainian's latest performance against Anthony Crolla...
I’ve worked in Vasiliy Lomachenko’s corner for ten fights now and I thought he looked sensational against Anthony Crolla in his latest fight.
Some people have said about Loma: ‘who’s he fought?’ But he’s fought several guys who have studied him very carefully who are very talented in their own right, including Jose Pedraza and Jorge Linares, two very big and game guys who have been around the world scene and have been world champions.
It was a very difficult night for Crolla whose style – I have to say - was somewhat made to order for Lomachenko. The way Anthony comes forward and likes to fight and is so game just played to Loma’s strengths.
To be honest, I had mixed feelings about the fight. I have so much respect and love for Anthony. He was actually the first British fighter whose hands I ever wrapped. I’ve know him for a long time and often worked closely with his trainer Joe Gallagher and the other members of his team – the Smith brothers and whatnot, so I can’t say it was a happy fight for me because I didn’t like seeing Anthony take the shots he was taking.
I think the referee Jack Reiss would have been justified in stopping the fight in the third round instead of crediting a knockdown when Crolla was held up by the ropes and allowing it to continue. Crolla is so game he’s never gonna quit you see, he always wants to keep on going. The last shot which ended the fight in round four resulted in a conclusive knockout and ended up costing Loma because he broke his hand as a result - so it wasn’t good for either guy.
Loma is such an exceptional talent that even people who aren’t fight fans are intrigued by him. I had a friend at the fight who had never been to a fight before and watched Loma and was absolutely amazed by him.
What is happening now is that he is emerging as a Pele or Michael Jordan or a Wayne Gretzky type figure, by which I mean he is separating himself clearly from the rest of the field in his sport. He’s a special talent the likes of which we haven’t seen in boxing since Roy Jones.
For ten years there was Roy and then there was every other fighter and we’re getting to that point now with Loma – there’s him and then there’s every other fighter. He’s so superior in every aspect of the game that he is this generation’s Roy Jones or Sugar Ray Robinson.
Technically speaking – if you look at Loma, he’s textbook. His hands are up, his stance is wide. He doesn’t do crazy stuff like stick his chin out or drop his hands. He throws a jab, he throws a left hand, he throws a hook, he throws all those punches very well.
So he’s fundamentally very sound but then so are a lot of other guys. What separates him from the rest is the fact he has this incredible speed and visionary reaction times. They used to say about Wayne Gretzky that when he played hockey it was as though he saw things happening at a much slower speed than they were actually happening. That’s also the case with Loma - it seems like he sees punches coming at him in slow motion so he has time to either block, step away, step around or counter punch.
Coupled with that Lomachenko says – and I’m quoting him here –that he can train “for 24 hours a day”. As a result he fights for all three minutes of every round. During the very few seconds that he isn’t throwing punches the other fighter can still feel the pressure coming at him. There is no let-up from Loma. Even if he’s not throwing punches he’s always pressuring you. There’s no ‘feeling out’ period – Loma doesn't allow you to do that. You have to work three minutes of every round against him physically and mentally.
The one thing that’s a bit of a shame is that there aren’t more players in the lightweight division to bring out the greatness in Loma. Mikey Garcia is a fight that he wants but it's a difficult fight to be made due to politics. Garcia sidelined himself for a couple of years to get out of his contract with Top Rank, who promote Loma, so I can’t foresee that would be an easy fight to make. I also don't expect Garcia to easily come down to 135 after moving up to 147lbs to face Errol Spence either.
It looks like Loma will be fighting Luke Campbell next, but it’s a shame the lightweight division isn’t as heavily loaded as, say, the light heavyweight division. Tank Davis might be a good opponent, but it’s problematic whether Floyd Mayweather would put his guy in with Loma and deal with Bob Arum. Another Top Rank fighter Teofimo Lopez could be the most dangerous of all the fights for Loma. Lopez is looming as a real potential star. I think he’s the real deal and he can punch, but how much longer he can make 135lbs for remains to be seen. If they made that fight now it wouldn’t be the mega fight it may be in a few years when Lopez has really established himself as a world class guy and world champion.
I’ve worked with Loma for ten of his 14 pro fights now, going back to the Gamalier Rodriguez bout in 2015. I always say to people there are four available spots in the Lomachenko corner – one belongs to his father and trainer Anatoly, that goes without saying, another belongs to his manage Egis Klimas and then there are two more.
The fact I’ve been chosen to be one of his guys is an absolute honour, even more so because Loma really wants me there. It’s really gratifying for me the trust he puts in me to wrap his hands and take care of his cuts and make sure his needs are taken care of.
How could it not be special to be working with Lomachenko?
Russ Anber is on Twitter and Instagram @russanber.
Russ was speaking to Luke G. Williams