GHANA’S IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey says he finds it difficult calling WBA and WBO lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko the finest boxer on the planet when the Ukrainian has mostly had things all his own way as a pro.
Commey, no stranger to hardship, has battled back from two split-decision losses to emerge as a world champion in 2019. He knocked out Isa Chaniev in February to win the belt, then defended it with an eighth-round stoppage of Raymundo Beltran to retain it in June.
As well as his homeland, Commey has competed professionally in England, Denmark, Russia, Germany, South Africa and the United States of America. In short, he has had no favours and has had to do things the hard way from day one.
Lomachenko, meanwhile, was effectively born a star when making his professional debut in 2013 and has, aside from a minor blip against Orlando Salido in bout number two, sailed through his pro career with unnerving ease.
It’s for this reason Commey finds it difficult lauding the three-weight world champion with quite the same enthusiasm as others.
“I don’t believe he’s the best fighter in boxing by a long way,” Commey, 29-2 (26), told Sky Sports. “He has a tremendous amateur background, but this is professional boxing, they are two different sports. Personally, I think Canelo (Alvarez), (Terence) Crawford, (Errol) Spence and (Deontay) Wilder are above.
“There is a lot to be said about being the A-side all of the time you have a distinct advantage when the promoter, TV network, journalists and everyone else sings your praises.
“Crawford went and took the belt off Ricky Burns in his own back yard and Spence done the same to Kell Brook. Canelo was the B-side against Mayweather and Wilder was prepared to go the Russia to defend his title.”
Although it could be said he is overlooking the sheer brilliance of Lomachenko, perhaps Commey has a point. After all, the Ukrainian has yet to win a fight he wasn’t supposed to win, nor tackle a champion on their turf.
Then again, given the tools at his disposal, will there ever be a fight in which Lomachenko is considered an underdog? Probably not.
Certainly, in terms of this Saturday’s (August 31) fight with Luke Campbell, there’s a definite sense Lomachenko once again finds himself in a bit of a no-win situation.
“It’s a very interesting fight if I’m being honest,” said Commey. “They are both Olympic champions who have a very high amateur pedigree. Add in the fact that they are both southpaws and it makes this match up very intriguing for me.
“I am edging towards Lomachenko simply because of a line through (Jorge) Linares whom both have fought which gives Loma the slight edge.
“But, in saying that, Shane McGuigan is a very astute trainer and I respect him a lot as a coach and he is more than capable of coming up with a game plan to surprise everyone.”
Commey, of course, was being lined up to box Lomachenko earlier this year but a hand injury picked up during his two-round fight with Chaniev scuppered those plans. Now he appears set to face Teofimo Lopez, his number one challenger, in what is likely to be yet another tough battle for a champion accustomed to being written off and having to prove doubters wrong.
Until Lomachenko does the same, Commey will view the 31-year-old’s accomplishments with a degree of scepticism. He might be alone there, though.
There will be plenty at stake when former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn fights fellow Aussie Michael Zerafa in Bendigo, Australia this Saturday (August 31).
In addition to bragging rights and the freedom of the land, Horn, the favourite, also stands to receive a shot at WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata on December 23 should he emerge victorious at the Bendigo Stadium.
“If he wins on the 31st, everything is arranged for him to go to fight Murata,” promoter Bob Arum told the Weekend Australian. “I came to terms with (Horn’s promoter) Dean (Lonergan) and I have talked to (Horn’s trainer) Glenn Rushton. That fight will take place right before Christmas.
“If he loses the fight against Zerafa, unfortunately he can’t be used. So hopefully he comes through. Dean says that he is confident that Horn will win the fight and then he gets a shot at the middleweight title.”
Thirty-three-year-old Murata won an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and boasts a professional record of 15-2 (12). Losses against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Rob Brant were both avenged in immediate rematches and he managed to secure both via stoppage.
Unlike Horn, 19-1-1 (13), the Japanese fighter is a fully-fledged middleweight and has competed in that division since turning professional back in 2013.
“I think that Horn will do well with Murata,” said Arum. “Whether he beats him or not, I don’t know. Horn has a real come-at-you style and takes a real good punch. If you take a good punch against Murata, you can perhaps outlast him. It is a really tough fight, but I think he has a chance to win.”
As was proven in July 2017, when the determined Aussie shocked the boxing world by beating Manny Pacquiao, all ‘The Hornet’ needs is a chance.