Vasiliy Lomachenko scored a unanimous decision win over Jamaine Ortiz at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The former world champion from Ukraine won with scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 117-111 for the three judges. But these tallies don’t tell the story of what was a close, exciting fight.
Lomachenko is returning to the sport after he was out of a major title earlier this year when he returned to his country after Russia invaded Ukraine to join the regional security forces.
It was Ortiz’s first fight after returning to training from Ukraine. The American, eight years old, is taller with the advantage of reach. He put these measures of energy consumption in the first round.
Ortiz threw a long shot and continued to work hard to keep the Ukrainian southpaw at bay. Since the beginning of the first round a dark wound appeared under Lomachenko’s right eye.
In these early rounds, Lomachenko found it difficult to establish his own rhythm. Ortiz dropped him hard with punches. The Ukrainian increased his workload in response. As the fight progressed, he started firing straight at Ortiz, spinning with a quick lead left.
Ortiz’s own leg is sharp and powerful. The terrorist attacks forced Lomachenko to retreat.
The Ukrainian made sure to finish the final two rounds strongly. He clenched his front leg, combining punches and fighting furiously until the end.
“I’m happy, I’m happy to be back in the ring and have this great performance,” Lomachenko said later.
“He’s a tough guy, he’s a real hero.”
Lomachenko went deep to win the tournament. “You know what motivates me – four belts,” he said.
Four-time belt holder Lomachenko wanted, undisputed heavyweight champion Devin Haney came.
He failed to secure a defense against Lomachenko, however, but opened the door to negotiations. “Hopefully we can get it,” Haney said.
“I will be ready,” Lomachenko promised.
On the card of Cuban Robeisy Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist like Lomachenko, continues to make professional progress.
The featherweight forced a stoppage in the ninth round of his fight against Jose Matias Romero.
American superstar Richard Torrez, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, won his fourth fight, defeating Ahmed Hefny quickly in three rounds.
Duke Ragan, who won the Olympic gold medal, managed to overcome Luis Lebron, winning the eighth round with scores of 77-75, 78-74 and 79-73.
Nico Ali Walsh, Muhammad Ali’s grandson, won his undercard bout. He traded punches with Billy Wagner but had enough power shots to secure a unanimous decision victory, 59-55 and 58-56 twice.