Vasiliy Lomachenko will face unbeaten prospect Jamaine Ortiz in New York on 29th October. The match will be Lomachenko’s first since the Russian invasion of his home country of Ukraine. ‘The Matrix’ fought for his country as part of the reserve armed forces. Lomachenko’s choice to defend his nation saw him turn down a shot at then-unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. That match-up instead went to WBC champion Devin Haney, who beat the Australian over 12 rounds to become the undisputed 135lb champion.
Haney and Kambosos are scheduled to meet in a rematch two weeks before Lomachenko and Ortiz meet. Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum, who promotes all the fighters involved, has promised the Ukrainian an undisputed title shot should he beat Ortiz.
That victory may be harder-fought than people assume. Lomachenko is one of the most supremely gifted fighters on Earth. An intoxicating concoction of speed, intelligence, dexterity and power; he poses a threat to any lightweight on the planet. But he can be defeated. Orlando Salido took a split decision from him in his second pro bout. More recently, and more pertinently, Teofimo Lopez was able to outbox him in 2020, winning a unanimous decision.
The question is: can Jamaine Ortiz reach the levels of the two former world champions that have beaten ‘Hi-Tec’? The signs are good. A draw with fellow prospect Joseph Adorno last year, where he was knocked down twice, is the sole smudge on his record. But ‘The Technician’ has atoned for that setback since. A win over Nahir Albright was much more like it, and a win over former world champion Jamel Herring last time out marked Ortiz as a star of the future. The fact Herring was sent into retirement by the dazzling display says it all.
However, this is a different level for Ortiz. He has never been in the ring with a boxer like Lomachenko because, frankly, there isn’t one. The two-time Olympic gold medalist has a style that borrows from many sources. The upper body movement of Roy Jones Jr, the shoulder-rolls of James Toney and the destructive hand-speed of Manny Pacquiao. It is a cocktail too potent for most opponents. And it is all shot through with a double-measure of Ukrainian grit and toughness that has made Oleksandr Usyk and the Klitschko brothers international superstars.
This is a very well-balanced piece of matchmaking, even if Lomachenko will be a comfortable favourite with the sportsbooks. Too often, a young unbeaten fighter will protected and fed inferior boxers until they have at least one world title belt around their waist. Equally, a former champion of Lomachenko’s illustrious standing could have fought anyone to keep warm for a shot at the Kambosos-Lopez winner. Instead, they have chosen each other. Youth vs experience. “Technician” vs “Loma”. Boxing’s present vs boxing’s future. This one is not short of selling points.
Boxing is a brave sport to begin with, but each man can be applauded for taking this fight. Lomachenko goes in with a man coming off a career-best win and who has never lost. Ortiz enters the ring opposite a legitimate future Hall of Famer. With an iconic fight city like New York playing host, this one really does have everything. Bring on October.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change