While there are several title fights around the world, including WBC bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire against Reymart Gaballo, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol facing Umar Salamov, women’s undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor against Firuza Sharipova, and IBF flyweight champion Sunny Edwards taking on Jayson Mama, the highest profile boxing match of the weekend is at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, December 11th.
Former unified lightweight champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasiliy Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs) headlines a Top Rank on ESPN card against former IBF lightweight champ Richard Commey (30-3, 27 KOs). This is Lomachenko’s second fight since losing his titles to Teofimo Lopez (who’s since lost them to George Kambosos Jr), and it’s Commey’s second fight since he lost his IBF title to Lopez.
What’s at stake?
Probably a title shot? This isn’t an official title eliminator and there’s no major belt on the line, but the winner is surely positioned to compete for a belt in 2022... or more specifically belts if it’s George Kambosos Jr. I don’t give a damn about some WBO inter-continental belt and neither should you.
Lomachenko is one of the greats of his era. He’s won major world titles in three weight classes and has drawn a considerable fanbase with his mesmerizing boxing skills. He’s not a fast starter historically but once he’s “downloaded information” so to speak, most opponents are pretty much doomed. Lomachenko has a great jab, punishing body shots, and free-flowing combination work that really ratchets up in the later rounds. He’s more precision over power but he is far from featherfisted. The Teofimo Lopez fight was not representative of how he normally boxes, and while he may cite his shoulder injury, the truth of the matter is that he was outboxed that night. He bounced back brilliantly in June against Masayoshi Nakatani and scored multiple knockdowns for the eventual TKO win. Fans will certainly remember his run of “No-mas-chenko” victories in which Jason Sosa, Nicholas Walters, Miguel Marriaga, and Guillermo Rigondeaux (who claimed injury) all fail to answer the bell between rounds.
Ghana’s Commey has been a longtime fixture at lightweight and an underappreciated fighter as well. Apart from the quick demolition job at the hands of Lopez, Commey’s other two defeats against Denis Shafikov and Robert Easter Jr were split decisions. He may not have the boxing skills of Lomachenko (then again, almost no one does) but he is a legitimately big puncher. Commey finally experienced a championship when he annihilated Isa Chaniev to win the IBF crown, then made a successful defense by knocking out Ray Beltran. After ceding his title to Lopez, Commey didn’t fight at all in 2020 but he started off 2021 with a vicious KO of Jackson Marinez.
Lomachenko is a hefty favorite for obvious reasons but Commey has a proven track record to suggest that he’s not to be taken lightly. And given Lomachenko is considered undersized for lightweight, dealing with Commey’s power and potentially eating heavy shots could make this trickier than expected.
Who’s on the undercard?
Middleweight Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of Muhammad Ali, opens up the broadcast with a fight against Reyes Sanchez in a 4-rounder. Walsh is 2-0 (2 KOs) but he doesn’t have a deep amateur background and is uh... probably not going to be great. Top Rank has milked this “Ali’s grandson angle like crazy.
For fighters with potentially massive upside, there’s undefeated American heavyweight Jared Anderson (10-0, 10 KOs) going up against Ukrainian-Canadian Oleksandr Teslenko (17-1, 13 KOs), who himself was a promising prospect before Shawndell Winters beat him in 2019. He notably has a win over UFC veteran Fabio Maldonado. Anderson is the main guy here as the 22-year-old looks the part of a contender with his combination punching, power, and speed.
Another boxer who could be a future champ is Keyshawn Davis (3-0, 2 KOs), 2020 Olympic silver medalist who is making his Top Rank debut against Jose Zaragoza (8-3-1, 2 KOs) in a junior welterweight fight. Davis has impressed thus far as a pro and I think Top Rank won’t be shy to rush him up the ranks.
It’s very possible that Commey gets taken apart and TKO’d through accumulation, but he’s otherwise only been stopped by Teofimo Lopez and presents the type of power-punching danger to Lomachenko that could make the Ukrainian a little more cautious. Ultimately this is still Loma’s fight to lose and while Commey will give it a good effort, Lomachenko is going to outclass him. Vasiliy Lomachenko by unanimous decision.
Lomachenko vs. Commey airs live on ESPN at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT. We’d love to provide live coverage but, you know, UFC 269 is happening at the same time. There will be a results write-up afterward, though!