Good, bad, worse: A big night for Vasiliy Lomachenko, Jake Paul and William Zepeda

A critical look at the past week in boxing

GOOD

Lightweight contender Vasiliy Lomachenko seemed to acknowledge after outpointing Jamaine Ortiz on Saturday night in New York City that it wasn’t his best performance.

The question is, why?

Everyone was looking for signs of age from the 34-year-old. Was that it? Was it the 10-month layoff? Was it the emotional toll of the war in his native Ukraine? Was it Ortiz, who opened eyes with a surprisingly strong performance?

Maybe it was a combination of all of the above.

Lomachenko looked out of sorts early in the fight as he tried to adjust to the speed and tactics of his former sparring partner, which undoubtedly led some to think during those trying moments that he has begun to slip.

However, he found a groove by the middle rounds and took firm control of the fight, looking a lot like the boxing wizard of the past. Maybe the age thing wasn’t a big factor after all.

The layoff? A lot of fighters go long periods of time without fighting these days. It doesn’t help, though. And one must assume his thoughts have been with his people, not on boxing given the war, although Oleksandr Usyk was able to put that aside and perform well against Anthony Joshua.

And Ortiz deserves credit. He didn’t deliver the life-changing performance for which he was hoping but he made a strong statement. He could compete with anyone.

Bottom line: No, Lomachenko didn’t dazzle anyone. At the same time he cleared all the hurdles listed above – plus a natural size disadvantage in the lightweight division – to win a unanimous decision, 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.

And, in addition to the victory, he realized another goal: His success set up a meeting with undisputed champion Devin Haney.

All in all, Lomachenko had a “good” night.

 

BAD

This item is filed under “bad” because Jake Paul baffles me.

Former MMA star Anderson Silva defeated genuine boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by a split decision in June of last year, which was surprising enough. Then, on Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona, Paul dropped and outpointed Silva in their eight-round fight.

Huh?

The only conclusion I can come up with: Paul (6-0, 4 KOs) can fight a little.

No, I’m not losing my mind. His skills remain rudimentary, which is expected for someone with only a handful of fights in his life. He clearly is learning, however. That’s a product of natural gifts and hard work.

Of course, Silva is 47 years old. He’s well preserved but certainly not what he used to be.

So how did he beat Chavez? That probably had a lot to do with Junior, who hasn’t always been properly dedicated to the sport. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he didn’t train a day for his meeting with Silva.

And no one should suggest that Paul will be able to take down an elite opponent. Remember, he has beaten a fellow YouTuber, a retired basketball player and former MMA stars. Thus, we can’t get carried away.

Paul called out MMA’s Nate Diaz and boxing star Canelo Alvarez after his victory. Diaz? Makes sense. Alvarez? Uh, no.

Let’s just give Paul some credit for his progress. He’s a good athlete with God-given punching power, which has helped him learn quickly. It makes me wonder what he might’ve accomplished had he started boxing earlier. And he’s obviously a tough guy. Otherwise he wouldn’t have the courage to step through the ropes.

Again, let’s keep this in perspective. Paul isn’t going to beat legitimate contender any time soon. That being said, he’s more than just a social media star and self-marketing whiz.

He wouldn’t be fooling himself or anyone else if he were to call himself a “fighter.”

 

WORSE

This item is filed under “worse” with Joseph Diaz Jr. in mind: The 2012 U.S. Olympian and former 130-pound titleholder didn’t know what hit him on Saturday night in San Diego.

William Zepeda (27-0, 23 KOs) overwhelmed Diaz (32-3-1, 15 KOs) from the opening bell with relentless, punishing pressure, never giving the loser a chance to get anything going in the one-sided lightweight fight.

In the process, Zepeda sent a message to the top 135-pounders: A new, legitimate threat is on the scene.

The Mexican’s motor was incredible. He threw a lightweight record 1,536 punches (connecting on 398), according to CompuBox. That’s a mind-boggling average of 128 punches thrown per round. Think about that.

And they weren’t pitty-pat shots; almost everything Zepeda throws is meant to hurt his opponents. The fact the naturally smaller Diaz was able to finish the fight on his feet is a testament to his resilience.

Can Zepeda beat the likes of Haney, Lomachenko, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia? I have my doubts. Haney and Lomachenko are better boxers than Diaz. And Diaz was able to hurt Zepeda at least once, which might not bode well against punchers like Davis and Garcia.

I’ll ask this, though: Who’s going to want to tangle with him after his performance on Saturday? 128 punches per round. Seriously?

Diaz might be at a crossroads.

He’s 1-2-1 in his last four fights, including a draw with Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, a victory over Javier Fortuna and back-to-back losses to Haney and now Zepeda. That looks bad but he’s only 29 and there’s no shame in those losses. Haney is a brilliant boxer and Zepeda is a force of nature.

Diaz isn’t finished.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

The Haney-Lomachenko fight will probably happen next. Haney, a rising star, wants another big fight and Lomachenko’s name on his resume. And Lomachenko wants a chance to reclaim his position at the top of the division after losing to Teofimo Lopez in 2020. Can Lomachenko win? I believe him when he says he’ll be better prepared for Haney than he was for Ortiz but it would be a very difficult fight for him. Haney is one of the most skillful boxers in the world and 11 years younger than Lomachenko. Plus, did you see the size difference when they stood side by side in the ring after the fight Saturday? Lomachenko joked that Haney is a heavyweight, his way of pointing out one of his biggest disadvantages. I believe Lomachenko would have a shot. He will have shed any rust. And he has one obvious advantage over Haney: experience in big fights. I would be a fascinating matchup. … Undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor (22-0, 6 KOs) of Ireland was as impressive as ever Saturday in London, where she easily outpointed previously unbeaten, but limited Karen Elizabeth Carabajal (19-1, 2 KOs) of Argentina. Taylor is now 16-0 in world title fights. A more significant challenge could come next: Taylor will now pursue a rematch with Amanda Serrano, who lost a split decision to Taylor in April. Promoter Eddie Hearn wants to stage Taylor’s next fight in Dublin, where Taylor is an icon. She has never fought professionally in her home country. It’s about time.

Related

William Zepeda overwhelms Joseph Diaz Jr., wins wide decision

Jake Paul vs. Anderson Silva: Live blog, results for Showtime event

Vasiliy Lomachenko outpoints 'tough" Jamaine Ortiz to set up meeting with Devin Haney

Jake Paul drops, outlasts Anderson Silva in back-and-forth clash

Katie Taylor dominates again. Amanda Serrano rematch next?

Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jamaine Ortiz: LIVE round-by-round analysis, results, full coverage

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie