Vasyl Lomachenko returns from injury to dominate Jose Padraza in unification bout

Anthony Cocks

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Vasyl ‘Hi Tech’ Lomachenko 12-1 (9) added the WBO lightweight title to his WBA belt with a dominant if unexciting win over Jose ‘Sniper’ Pedraza 25-2 (12) at the Hulu Theater in New York’s famed Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

The once-beaten Ukrainian southpaw, who was returning to the ring after seven months on the sidelines due to shoulder surgery, picked up the pace in the later rounds to send Pedraza to the deck twice in the penultimate round but couldn’t finish him off within the distance.

All three judges awarded Lomachenko the victory by wide margins. Scores were 117-109, 119-107, 117-109.

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“It was my dream to unify titles,” said Lomachenko, 30, a former featherweight and super featherweight world titleholder. “It was my next goal. I can now focus on my next chapter.”

In his first fight back after surgery on a torn right labrum Lomachenko started cautiously before Pedraza took a knee in the 11th with about thirty seconds to go in the round. Lomachenko decked him again with a body shot but couldn’t put his rugged opponent away.

“I’m healthy, one hundred percent,” he said.

The fight that many people would like to see is Lomachenko versus fellow top-five pound-for-pound entrant and WBC champion Mikey Garcia 39-0 (30). But with the 30-year-old Californian multi-weight champion due to challenge IBF welterweight kingpin Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence Jr 24-0 (21) in March, it’s a bout that won’t be happening any time soon.

“Maybe next year we can make a fight with Mikey Garcia,” Lomachenko mused.

Meanwhile Pedraza said he was happy with his effort despite the defeat.

“I went 12 rounds with the best fighter in the world. I knew what we were going up against,” the 29-year-old Puerto Rican said.

“I thought it was a close fight until the knockdowns. At the end of the day I am proud of what I did.”

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