Written by Tré Berry III | 12/08/2021
Life at times can throw you interesting ⚾curveballs, whether it alters something about you, or it reconstructing the ground in which you walk on. Such was the case for both 🇬🇭Richard Commey (30-3-0, 27KO👊), and 🥇🥇🇺🇦Vasiliy Lomachenko (15-2-0, 11KO👊)…and though their stories completely contrast one another, it is also intertwined in a sense, to where they each play a part in an important 📖chapter in a grand story of the division. For their fight to be on the horizon in the next few days, it is a near full circle microcosm given where the story all originates from.
RICHARD COMMEY’S CAREER OUTLOOK
Let’s take a journey back to 2019. Richard Commey, after being shorted in his efforts to win a title against 🇺🇸Robert Easter Jr. back in 2016, reclimbed the Lightweight totem pole, and soon faced off against Russian 🇷🇺Isa Chaniev for the vacant world IBF Lightweight strap in February of 2019.
Commey made it look rather easy, as he was knocking Chaniev from pillar to post, putting him down, and away inside of only two rounds needed to get the job done, and Richard Commey celebrated in becoming an 🔴IBF world titlist. Being that it was the biggest moment of his career up to this point, the narrative should have set in…..but at some point, upon him bludgeoning Chaniev profusely, he injured his right hand, which already had an adverse reaction on his immediate future plans.
He heard a 👊🏿knuckle pop, as stated by him, and it appears that it may have been the first knockdown that did it, as he landed a telephone pole right hand, and mildly waived his hand as Chaniev was spiraling down to the canvas. Upon results of X-Rays, 🩺doctors found that he had damaged a knuckle ligament that required surgery.
There were ongoing talks that Commey was all set to meet up with Vasiliy Lomachenko immediately to follow to unify his IBF Title, with Vasiliy’s RING, WBA and WBO Titles. Because of the injury, the fight was taken off of the shelves, and Loma went on to fight fellow Gold-Medalist 🥇🇬🇧Luke Campbell for the vacant 🟢WBC Lightweight title belt instead.
Commey’s opportunity at the big fish to unify 4 world titles together was taken off of the roundtable…but to Commey’s credit, he elected not to take a soft touch opponent immediately after recovering from surgery. He came back a little sooner than expected, only about 4 months after his Isa Chaniev bout, but Vasiliy already fully bought in to the prospects of adding the WBC strap to his collection.
Commey proceeded on to fight against the steady former world titlist 🇲🇽🇺🇸Raymundo Beltran, knocking the warrior down 4 times en route to what was a strong victory for the Ghanaian born fighter, who has taken up residence in the Bronx.
With Lomachenko now holding 4 of the 5 titles, Richard was first to see and meet with young contender 🇺🇸Teofimo Lopez in December of 2019 at Madison Square Garden in a bout that felt like anything could go. What played out however was a perfect meeting of Teofimo’s best trait lining up with Richard Commey’s biggest weakness, and as Commey opened up to throw his right hand wide, with no defensive positioning to speak of, Teofimo blasted him with a perfect 💣counter right hand to the chin, that made Commey discombobulated, stumbling across the ring, and going down twice to the canvas from the shot, and had fits of trouble getting up.
Lopez never allowed him to recover, as he jumped on him and beat him to precision until the Referee stopped the fight in the second round…..thus Richard Commey losing his IBF title, and Teofimo Lopez becoming a world titlist for the first time, jumping ahead of Commey for the major opportunity that he thought he was finally going to get – will all the trinkets on the line. Those ambitions for Richard Commey ultimately went up in 💨smoke, and was forced to being relegated towards the sidelines on the outside looking in.
LOMACHENKO AND HIS CIRCUMSTANCES
As for Vasiliy Lomachenko…the 📕story takes over from here, but in order to get its full impact, we have to dig a little deeper into the past in order to capture its impact, with 🔎given context. He has had two goals in boxing in its most simplistic form.
The first goal was to win an Olympic Gold-Medal, to which he did, and one-upped himself by actually winning two of them…and the other goal was in becoming a recognized Undisputed World Champion once he had set foot down in the professional ranks – a goal that he is actively working on, but was made much more difficult to obtain due to circumstances stemming from willing participants, and a world crisis.
Vasya has had 420 fights on record dating back to 2004, and he has put together an astounding 📜417-3 record throughout the various levels of combat he participated in. To add further context to that, all three of his losses are highly debatable, and/or has a story attached to it, with extenuating circumstances that can absolve any sense of shortcoming in those bouts.
The first one into question was his loss to career amateur legend 🇷🇺Albert Selimov back in 2007 at the 🪙AIBA World Boxing Championships when Vasiliy was 20 – to where he had to settle with the Silver-Medal, while Selimov went on to win the tournament at Featherweight.
If you ever had the luxury of watching that fight, it was a close one, where Selimov relied on range, and counterpunching, while Vasiliy was more inclined to relying on his athleticism at this point in his life. Given that the amateur style of scoring differentiates from how we tend to score in the pros, he outpointed Loma 📝16-11… however there were a few clean shots from Vasiliy that went noticeably unaccounted for in using the amateur scoring outlook, as it could’ve been a razor close decision to go either way.
They fought two more times in 2008, and 2012, but by that time Vasiliy matured behind the style that we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing, and left no debates, defeating the great Russian in the unpaid ranks twice.
Now…the second of the losses on record, was Lomachenko’s second professional fight against 🇲🇽Orlando Salido, who not only lost his Featherweight title on the scale, he ballooned up to ⚖️147 lbs., for a Featherweight contest. To put a 🪶feather in the cap, there were 51 blows that landed on the beltline, or below on the 🩳trunks, with only one legitimate low blow warning from Referee Laurence Cole.
The punches landed by Salido low without warning likely had a role in judges scoring them as clean body punches to factor in, drastically skewed what was already a close fight to begin with…but all things considered in this equation, this bout as a whole should be absolved, and stricken from the overall record.
The third one was against 🇺🇸Teofimo Lopez…now, how did we get to this point? As Richard Commey’s path disbanded from Vasiliy’s, Loma continued to steamroll through the division, adding the WBC world title by defeating 🥇🇬🇧Luke Campbell.
By that time that Lopez defeated Commey, the wheels were already in motion, and the rollout was clear for Vasiliy, and Teofimo to meet up for the World Undisputed Lightweight Championship.
The bout was originally scheduled for April of 2020. Both were healthy, primed, ready-to-go, and the anticipation was felt worldwide by boxing fans…however, the bout was cut short by something that each and every one of us had to deal with on a global scale. The worldly news spread of the 🦠Coronavirus began to reach everyone’s News stations by the middle of January, with worries of it eventually making it’s inevitable mark on their home soil.
It was in early March of 2020 when the first case was discovered in the United States, and from there, a 2 week stretch seen the virus spread like wildfire in the United States, and the overall daily function of life reached an abrupt halt, as we all worried about life as we know it, not knowing much about what was happening in the moment during those early tumultuous times.
Boxing reacted swiftly, and all fight cards were postponed indefinitely, without any inkling of what to do about it until the crisis became manageable. Vasiliy’s preparation for the fight had to come to full stop, and he faced a dilemma. Since turning professional in 2013, most notably after his pivotal contest with 🇺🇸Gary Russell Jr., he had become the most avoided in the sport, and it heavily inflicted his desire to become an “Absolute” Champion…the way he likes to phrase it.
It was because of the reluctance of the other Featherweight titlists, why he found himself moving up to Super-Featherweight, in hopes that the hierarchy of the division were more willing to engage in combat.
Fortunate for him, 🇵🇷Rocky Martinez was warm to fighting him, but Lomachenko’s devastating performance against once again scared off his peers, and while he fought very good competition at 130 lbs., none with a belt made themselves available, so for the same reasons that Vasyl moved up to Super-Featherweight, were the exact same reason why he ultimately moved up to the Lightweight division.
Now, with that backdrop of history in dealing with fighter unwillingness, and shady business dealings of today’s boxing, Lomachenko, fast forward to times during the height of the pandemic, had a major decision to make going forward…
As he suffered the labrum injury prior to his Teofimo Lopez fight, his Father advised for him to postpone the fight due to it…to which Lomachenko declined to do so, and hopped into the contest trying to find his way around the injury to secure the big win. The immediate question upon hearing this as it unfolded was…why would Vasiliy Lomachenko take such a major fight while injured❓ Without context, the answer would likely be hubris, or a sense of overconfidence if you will…however when you take time to examine the situation, it made plenty of sense why he decided to give it a go.
Lomachenko…being 33 years of age, and with the complete uncertainty of the worlds structure going forward, and the past dealings of big fights evading him, Vasiliy felt that with those factors in play, and especially Teofimo’s pending plight to vacate Lightweight to move to ⚖️140 lbs., that if the fight hadn’t happened then in the moment, he would never get the fight, or the opportunity to fight for Undisputed.
For clarity on the first point noted, I’m sure all of us were having telephone conversations with our loved ones in the thick of 2020, wondering if we would ever regain a sense of normalcy, and that factored into sports, as athletes are human as well. Lomachenko feared that boxing would go back on the shelf, and for good during the second surge of the covid spread, to where his opportunity would never circle around ever again, factoring in the next 3 – 5 years with the potential prospects of no boxing on the horizon for him to have the platform to achieve his goals…3 – 5 years which is likely the lifespan for the final run of his career.
Considering that Vasiliy Lomachenko is beginning to advance in age 📍(not in ability), he realized that time may be running out for him to achieve the lone professional goal that has driven him to what he accomplished all across the board as a professional fighter. All things factored, he decided to take the bout.
The labrum injury noticeably effected him in a multitude of ways, taking away a couple of dimensions that is paramount to his attack. Typically when you see a Lomachenko fight, he relentlessly move his lead right hand in a 🤺fencing motion, to constantly change the eye level of his opponent, keep him in a reactive or stationary state, & it is also usually used as a way to offset rhythms by varying its tempo.
Much of that was absent during the Lopez fight, even when he finally began to get aggressive by round 6. Also noticeably missing was his best punch, the sweeping 💪🏽right hook. Throughout 10 rounds, he had only thrown 12 right hooks up to that point, his most heavily featured weapon in his fights.
In rounds 11 and 12, he decided to start throwing it due to having no choice but to, to finish his strong surge in the second half, but it was rendered null through the first 30 minutes of the contest. Lastly, though he had his jab going, it wasn’t the authoritative jab that he uses when he gets going in full gear. Albeit it all those factors being the case, it was still a close fight, but Teofimo Lopez was awarded the decision.
Now, with the belts being exchanged, Lomachenko was back to square one in the pursuit of world Lightweight belts. Fortunate for him, boxing, though it is not all the way back yet, it is back to functioning without much interference, and while the worlds still dealing with the ramifications of the health crisis, we’re nowhere near where we were in 2020.
With Lomachenko going under the 🔪knife to repair the shoulder, he faced 🇯🇵Masayoshi Nakatani in his first fight back, and early on you could tell that everything was back in order, the only lingering question was could he continue to use the shoulder throughout the bout without compromise? and the answer was yes, thus putting back in a primed position.
Now…Commey, suffering his debilitating loss to Lopez, needed a solid fight to put him back in the mix, and 🇩🇴Jackson Marinez was the target, a solid mid-level Lightweight contender. With Commey delivering the strong knockout over the Dominican fighter, it reminded people that Richard Commey is indeed, still a very good fighter.
As his stock rose back up, so did Lomachenko’s, with health questions cast to the side. The fight that had eluded them pre-pandemic, and post-boxing hiatus has finally been pieced together, and we will get this fight here in a couple of days.
The lone difference is that none of the world belts are on the line, but it doesn’t change the inherent scope of the bout, that being two quality Lightweights get to finally meet, to settle their score. Be it as it stands, Australia’s newest standout sensation 🇦🇺🇬🇷George Kambosos Jnr. is now the King of the division, holding all of the Lightweight World Title belts.
That being said, there are still droves of people that believe while George is thee World Lightweight Champion (making that point crystal clear), they believe that a healthy Lomachenko is still the best boxer in the division…so for someone like Commey, this is one hell of a test to get up for in his pursuit for status, while Vasiliy looks to further remind his peers that he is still a true force to be reckoned with.