This weekend’s big fights are headlined by a mouth-watering clash at New York’s Madison Square Garden this evening as WBO super feather king Rocky Martinez looks to turn aside the challenge posed by current WBO featherweight champ Vasyl Lomachenko.
Martinez, 29-2-1 (17), is on his third reign as WBO 130 pound titlist, having gone 6-2-2 in ten bouts for that belt. Most recently, the native of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico came away with a draw in September after his second clash against arch-rival Omar Salido.
Having gone 24 rounds during the past 14 months with the no-holds barred Salido has probably improved Martinez’s abilities to brawl but the 33 year old Puerto Rican will be meeting a masterful boxing southpaw when the bell rings tonight in New York.
Lomachenko, 5-1 (3), has been on the accelerated development plan since turning professional in October, 2013 following two Olympic gold medal winning efforts in the amateurs.
It’s a testament to the skill of the 28 year old Ukrainian that he came within a hair’s breadth of defeating 55 bout veteran Salido for the vacant WBO feather belt in what was just Lomachenko’s second pro contest.
The remarkable southpaw went onto win the WBO strap in his next outing by drubbing Gary Russell Jr before following that up with three successful and very tidy defenses.
Now Lomachenko is jumping up a weight class to take on a very popular Puerto Rican fighter in New York, the day before that city’s annual massive Puerto Rican day parade, one of the largest outdoor events in the US.
Is Lomachenko confident that he can overturn some pretty heavy odds and defeat the taller, bigger, more experienced Martinez?
Well, one answer to that question is that Lomachenko will still hold his featherweight title if he loses to Martinez.
Close by at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, there’s a clash for the vacant WBC lightweight title between Dejan Zlaticanin and Franklin Mamani.
Zlaticanin, 21-0 (14), of Montenegro, has had a good previous two years, defeating ex-world champion Ricky Burns, tough veteran Alex Bone and contender Ivan Redkach.
Mamani, 24-2-1 (12), of Bolivia, has faced lesser known competition, aside from Demetrius Corley, and has never previously fought in the US.
The 29 year old from La Paz has suffered two losses and a draw during his carer, but they came at higher weights, welter and super welter, before the move to super lightweight was made in 2012.
It should be interesting to see how Mamani does after going down yet another division, particularly against cagey southpaw Zlaticanin.
Jumping across the Atlantic and heading south, we next land at the Ramatex Factory in Windhoek, Namibia where Paulus Ambunda faces Moises Flores for the Interim WBA super bantam title.
Ambunda, 24-1 (10), previously held the WBO bantam belt and currently wears the IBO super bantam crown while Flores, 24-0 (17), holds the Interim WBA title.
This should be a good contest as Mexican visitor Flores is younger and much taller but local man Ambunda will have the crowd behind him and has had previous experience in world title contests.