Vasyl Lomachenko vs Roman Martinez & Felix Verdejo vs Juan Jose Martinez
BY KID HERSH
HBO Boxing After Dark from The Theatre at Madison Square Garden. First up was Felix Verdejo (21-0, 14ko's) vs Juan Jose Martinez (25-2, 17ko's). The first round was slow, with Martinez following Verdejo around the ring and Verdejo looking to counter his man. Verdejo's punches were accurate and had bad intentions on them,, such as the right hand he landed in the last minute of the round that snapped Martinezs' head back. In the second round the gap in talen widened as Verdejo showed great defense in slipping Martinez's shots and also countering very effectively with right hands that were slowly accumulating damage. For the next couple rounds Verdejo continued breaking his man down. He started landing very heavy body shots as well as left hooks to go with his right hands he had been landing. By the end of the fourth round Martinez looking worn down as he had blood flowing down the right side of his face and was breathing heavily. The end came near the end of the following round when in the fifth he landed a right hand that nearly sent Martinez down. With only about thirty seconds to go Verdejo attacked his man a bit recklessly, missing far more shots than he was landing, with the referee stopping the fight just before the end of the round due to Martinez not responding. In my opinion it was not a great looking stoppage for Verdejo because he missed so many punches, but overall it was a good win for the youngster. I just see gaps in his game still - such as setting up his punches and combination punching. He likes to fire off a single powerful blow but it appears to be very mechanical to me, if not predictable.
Main event time featuring the phenom Vasyl Lomachenko (5-1, 3ko's) vs Roman "Rocky" Martinez (29-2-3, 17ko's). In the first round Lomachenko looked much more aggressive than usual as he walked down Martinez and picked his spots with his much quicker hands. Martinez was missing by miles due to his much slower feet and hands. In the second round Lomachenko established his dominance very clearly as he was extremely hard to hit for the first couple minutes of the round. He used his quick feet and superb upper body movement to Bob and weave right in front of Martinez but the Puerto Rican found out that his foe was still extremely difficult to hit. Lomachenko has a beautiful rhythm to his defense and of course that goes hand in hand with his accurate offense. He was controlling Martinez with his jab as well - with not just setting up his shots but throwing Martinez off rhythm. He was also stepping around Martinez easily to blunt his offense as well as set up his own - as evidenced by the beautiful right hook he landed with only about ten seconds left in the round that he stepped around to Martinez's side to open him up for. The shot appeared to at least slightly Martinez's legs to my eyes but the tough Puerto Rican continued walking forward to end the round. In the third round Lomachenko got hit with a few more meaningful shots than the previous round but still he showed a beautiful rhythm to his work - he is just absolutely silky smooth in there and fun to watch. Hittable but not. Fluid but unpredictable. Graceful but dangerous. This continued through the fourth round and near the end of the round Roy Jones Jr. Was saying how he was saving himself I saw a very aggressive version of Lomachenko as he was talking; a guy who was unloading lead lefts with real head-snapping authority and knockout intentions. Then suddenly less than a minute into the fifth round Vasyl landed a left uppercut that brought Martinez's head up for a right hook that he never saw coming. The shot dropped him hard - he was out and counted out, not knowing what hit him. Wow - a sensational knockout for Lomachenko and perhaps the knockout of the year. Lomachenko said in the post fight that he would like to fight Salido to avenge his only loss - for his fans!
Last but most importantly the crew honored Harold Lederman - who got entered into the International Boxing Hall of Fame the very next day in Canastota. Congratulations to Harold, I could not agree with the crew any more that a hardcore boxing man such as Harold is entering into the Hall as an equal to the greats he is now among.