LOS ANGELES (AP) — Vasyl Lomachenko defended his WBA and WBO lightweight belts on Friday night with a violent fourth-round stoppage of Britain's Anthony Crolla.
Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KOs) brutalized the mandatory challenger for his WBA belt throughout their fight, nearly ending it late in the third round when the Ukrainian star knocked Crolla into the ropes.
Referee Jack Reiss allowed the fight to continue, and Lomachenko finished after the break with a right hand that dropped Crolla face-first onto the canvas with a broken nose.
Lomachenko thoroughly outclassed Crolla (34-7-3), a tough but overmatched contender. Lomachenko had hoped to take on Richard Commey in a three-belt unification fight, but Commey's injured hand forced Lomachenko's promoters to make this fight.
Lomachenko then showed why it was a bad idea, demonstrating his superiority from the start.
Although Crolla retreated and dodged Lomachenko's attacks from the opening minute onward, Lomachenko picked apart Crolla's defense with his peerless combination of athleticism and technique, working the body and head with equal aplomb.
Crolla couldn't escape Lomachenko's combinations on the ropes late in the third round, but made it to the bell at Reiss' discretion. Nothing got better in the fourth, and Lomachenko hurt Crolla before finishing him in dramatic fashion.
"I've been doing this for well over 50 years, and I've never seen anything like that guy," said Bob Arum, Lomachenko's Hall of Fame promoter. "He's almost breathtaking."
Lomachenko headlined at Staples Center for the first time in his brief professional career, and a raucous crowd of 10,101 filled the lower bowl for the pound-for-pound star's biggest showcase yet. The Ukrainian has developed a significant fan base in the Los Angeles area, where he lives and trains.
Lomachenko's profile has grown exponentially in recent years as he headlined at Madison Square Garden, in Macau and other Los Angeles-area venues before his step up to Staples. Lomachenko's next fight is likely to be even bigger, whether as a unification bout or a showdown with one of the other lightweight greats of this era.
"I want Mikey Garcia, (but) I want to unify titles," Lomachenko said. "That's my goal. I want historic fights."
In the co-main event, longtime super middleweight champion Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramírez remained unbeaten when his light heavyweight debut against Tommy Karpency was stopped by Karpency's corner before the fifth round.
Karpency got in the ring with a black eye, and his nose was damaged early by Ramírez, the rangy puncher who had just one previous stoppage victory since 2014. Ramírez appears determined to make a career at 175 pounds instead of returning to 168, where he has dominated most of his competition for a few years.
LA celebrities in attendance included Don Cheadle, Rosie Perez, director Peter Berg and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay.
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