Vasiliy Lomachenko is ready to take another bite out of the Big Apple. Lomachenko, the pound-for-pound superstar and WBA lightweight world champion, will look to unify world titles for the first time as a professional when he clashes with WBO champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 9 p.m. ET, live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. This marks Lomachenko’s fourth main event appearance at a Madison Square Garden venue. (photos by Peter Amador).
Lomachenko-Pedraza will headline a special edition of Top Rank on ESPN, which will follow the 84th Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Presentation.
Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is widely considered to be the greatest amateur boxer in history, as he posted a 396-1 record with Olympic gold medals for his native Ukraine in 2008 and 2012. In the pro ranks, he has continued to etch his name in the history books. Lomachenko tied a boxing record by winning a world title in his third pro bout on June 21, 2014, a clear points win against Gary Russell Jr. to claim the vacant WBO featherweight title. He made three defenses of that title before moving up to 130 pounds.
In his debut at 130 pounds, Lomachenko knocked out Roman Martinez with an uppercut-hook combination to win the WBO junior lightweight world title. Following the Martinez bout, Lomachenko began an unprecedented streak of four consecutive opponents – Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga, and Guillermo Rigondeaux – retiring on their stools. The Rigondeaux bout, which took place last December at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, was the first time in boxing history that a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists fought as professionals. After six rounds, Rigondeaux quit on his stool.
With nothing left to prove at 130 pounds, Lomachenko moved up to lightweight and challenged WBA champion Jorge Linares. On May 12 at Madison Square Garden, Lomachenko suffered a labral tear of his right shoulder in the second round and was knocked down with a right hand in the sixth, only to come back and stop Linares with a left hand to the body in the 10th round.
The Linares victory signified another milestone for Lomachenko. In becoming a three-weight world champion in 12 professional fights, he broke the previous record set by Jeff Fenech (20 fights) in 1988. Lomachenko has knocked out eight consecutive opponents dating back to his fourth professional bout in 2014.