The Politics Of The Torch: Lomachenko And Taylor Aren't Ready To Go Just Yet

Lomachenko and Taylor both lost close decisions on Saturday night
15:56, 21 May 2023

Boxing cynics will often point out that, in a close fight, the judge’s decision will usually go the way of the bigger-name fighter. If that were true then we would likely have woken up on Sunday morning with two newly-crowned undisputed world champions. Katie Taylor and Vasiliy Lomachenko are two of the modern greats and guaranteed future Hall of Famers. If there was any truth to this old adage then Taylor’s majority decision defeat to undisputed super lightweight ruler Chantelle Cameron would have gone her way. So too was Lomachenko's unanimous decision loss to four-belt lightweight boss Devin Haney.

But boxing isn’t a popularity contest and the mainstream darlings were on the wrong end of the closest of decisions. For what it’s worth, Cameron’s tight win over Taylor looked justified while Haney can count himself lucky to have got the nod over Lomachenko, who dazzled in his best performance in years.


Both results could be termed as a passing of the torch. Taylor has been the greatest women’s boxer of the modern era, arguably of any era. At the age of 36 and with incredible wars in her past, including a modern epic with Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden last year, her best days are arguably behind her. That doesn’t mean the days we are witnessing now aren’t scintillating. Even in defeat, her efforts against Cameron were absolutely thrilling. Unbeaten in her own right, it is hard to envision anyone but Taylor giving ‘Il Capo’ that robust of a challenge.

You could certainly say the same of Lomachenko and Haney. No one but the mighty Ukrainian has given the American such a thorough beating. Not to say their bout was one-sided. It was competitive and exciting from minute one. But for all the solid body work laid down by ‘The Dream’, it was almost always ‘Loma’ who had the final word in their often-lightning exchanges. While Taylor came up just short in a close fight, it felt like Lomachenko was denied what was rightfully his.


Again though this functioned as a passing of the torch. Such moments in boxing often don’t run smoothly. Take the bout where Shannon Briggs defeated lineal heavyweight champion George Foreman in 1997. The younger man was seen to have done little to wrest the championship from ‘Big’ George. The torch wasn’t so much passed as wrenched from the grasp of an unwilling patsy. 

Neither Taylor nor Lomachenko seem ready to exit stage left just yet. This Saturday’s two big prizefights were each memorable, absorbing affairs. These weren’t the sad final throes of a retiring great. Perhaps they were the final truly spectacular performances from two fighters edging towards that end? We’ll only know that when they fight again. 

Taylor’s promoter Eddie Hearn has already expressed his desire to put the Irish superstar back in with Cameron. Lomachenko’s situation is more complicated due to the fact that lightweight is the hottest division in boxing. With challengers like Shakur Stevenson, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia in and around the weight class, Lomachenko may have to join the queue. 

This weekend will be remembered not just for the thrilling action it gave us, but for providing what will likely be one of our last looks at two ring legends. Having come up short on the biggest stage, you might argue that Katie Taylor and Vasiliy Lomachenko have very little left to give us. But to assert that would be to misunderstand the competitive edge that made them two of the greatest fighters of our time. We haven’t seen the last of these two yet. They’re coming for those torches.

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