Vasyl Lomachenko (Top Rank)

Red Saturday: Lomachenko and Nelson Lead a Bloody Weekend

Boxing. It’s the sport of gentlemen, but there were some brutal finishes in December. It was far too much violence for small children.

It was a nasty weekend! Usually, we Eastern Europeans prefer to be silent, but that night made me go crazy. I was shouting out loud at 6 a.m in the morning, while my wife and little daughter slept in the next room — sorry for that, my beloved!

Every time we think we’ve seen everything and there are no more surprises, life brings more. December started with a top show where Tyson Fury collided with Deontay Wilder. It was one of the most impressive standoffs in heavyweight division. However, if you already bet on this fight to graduate as the best of the year, I’d recommend you to withdraw the stakes!


Many people, including movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, worried about the condition of Vasyl Lomachenko’s right hand after surgery on May 30. The injury happened in the second round of his encounter with Jorge Linares on May 12. Lomachenko won by knockout in the 10th round and earned WBA lightweight title.

On Dec. 8, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Lomachenko put his titles on the line against Jose Pedraza. Pedraza put on an impressive performance in this fight. In the third round, redness appeared on Lomachenko’s left eyebrow.

Many observers expected a knockout in Saturday’s battle. Fellow boxer Mikey Garcia predicted Lomachenko would finish the fight in fifth round. However, Lomachenko’s father and coach, Anatoly, wisely commanded his son to slow the pace.

After the eighth round, Lomachenko found his rhythm. He landed two big knockdowns in the 11th frame to win take the unanimous decision with scores of 119-107, 117-109 and 117-109. His output almost doubled the punches he received from Linares.

After the fight, Pedraza showed much respect to the Ukrainian. He congratulated Lomachenko on the unification of the WBA and WBO lightweight belts. It was a good show of sportsmanship from the fighters.

You can love or hate Black Friday, but some might call Dec. 8 “Red Saturday”!

While Lomachenko and Pedraza combined for an absolute masterpiece, it was not the first fight of the evening. Nor was it the nastiest one.

When we talk about spectacular finishes, the UFC delivered! Even the brutal clash between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Adonis Stevenson could not compare to the gore of Gunnar Nelson and Alex Oliveira at UFC 231. Oliveira had some success in the first round, but Nelson shocked the crowd with a devastating comeback in the second frame. The Icelander unleashed an elbow on the Brazilian “Cowboy” that resulted in a bloody massacre. The referee stopped the fight once Nelson followed the fountain of blood by locking in a rear-naked choke. Not many men have seen something similar, and no doubt many who did would prefer to forget!

Max Holloway may not agree with the previous statement, though. The UFC featherweight champion outclassed Brian Ortega and defended his title for third time. Holloway scored a TKO after the fourth round of the main event. He prolongs his winning streak to 13 fights and set a new UFC record for most significant strikes in one fight with 290.

After the contest, Holloway invited his charming 6-year-old son to the Octagon, and the boy stole the show.

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What great fights! I can’t wait to see Lomachenko’s next performance. Ukrainians could take the top three positions in the pound-for-pound boxing rankings before 2018 ends. That may sound too optimistic, but December is the month when miracles happen.

Bonus: Mikey Garcia explains why he’s afraid of Lomachenko.