The Friday Faceup

Returning Vasiliy Lomachenko (left) eyes Richard Commey.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images.

Saturday sees the return of ‘The Matrix’.

Ukrainian superstar Vasiliy Lomachenko, the double Olympic champion and former three-weight world champion meets Ghana’s Richard Commey in a non-title bout at lightweight (135lbs). The contest will be held in the ‘big room’ at Madison Square Garden, New York, and the fact it’s the first time in two years boxing has returned to the larger arena shows the draw of ‘Loma’.

A number of his famous victories have been held there in recent years and promoters Top Rank Inc. have returned him to his favourite venue where he’s a big draw.

In Commey (30-3, 27 KO’s), Lomachenko faces a former IBF world lightweight champion coming off a sole victory since he lost his title to Teofimo Lopez at the same venue in 2019. The Honduran New Yorker is the shared form line, with Loma losing his unified titles to Lopez in a seismic October 2020 defeat. Commey was stopped inside two rounds by Lopez prior to this.

Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KO’s), now 33 years old, is reaching the back end of his career but still has the undoubted class and motivational opportunities to progress. The unexpected victory by new undisputed lightweight champ Aussie, George Kambosos, over previously undefeated Lopez two weeks ago has given every 9st,9lb fighter a new target and king to topple.

Loma is looking ahead to this title opportunity but will have to perform well against the dangerous Commey to seal it. He remains The Ring magazine’s #8 in the pound-for-pound listings and will be looking to impress to retain that status and his marquee value.

The 34 year old Ghanaian is naturally bigger with Lomachenko moving up from featherweight over the last few years but the Ukrainian has the pedigree and class to gain a convincing points victory.

In the UK the big event of the weekend is the Matchroom promotion at the Liverpool M&S Bank Arena. Top of the bill is Conor Benn (19-0, 12 KO’s) facing former WBO super-lightweight ‘world’ champion Chris Algieri (25-3, 9 KO’s)at welterweight (147lbs). Equally sharing the billing is Ireland’s female pound-for-pound #1 Katie Taylor (19-0, 6 KO’s) who meets Kazakhstan’s Firuza Sharipova (14-8-1, 8 KO’s) at lightweight.

The 25 year old Benn is on an upward trajectory and has looked impressive in recent performances. His two outings this year resulted in a one round blow out of Samuel Vargas in April and recently outpointing world level Adrian Granados. Look for the Londoner to be extended by the 37 year old Algieri who’s fought in good class, but the busier and explosive Benn should get a late rounds stoppage.

In the female contest, any Kazakh fighter is worthy of respect but the main ace in Sharipova’s pack is her sole defeat to, and training with Taylor’s foe and Olympic nemesis Russian Sofya Ochigava, who will know the Irish lady well. All Taylor’s undisputed titles will be on the line and look for her to prevail in a tough contest over ten two minute rounds.

The card also features quality prospects Joe Cordina (13-0, 8 KO’s) at super-featherweight (130lbs) and Tokyo Olympian Peter McGrail (1-0, 0 KO’s) at featherweight (126lbs). The latter fighting in his hometown.

In Dubai, UAE skillful Londoner Sunny Edwards (16-0, 4 KO’s) will be making a first defence of his IBF ‘world’ flyweight title against Filipino Jayson Mama (16-0, 9 KO’s) on Probellum promotions card. As with the Kazakh’s, any man from the Philippines deserves respect and although his previous opposition is limited, he will give the champion a tough fight. The confident and slick boxing Edwards should though win on points.

Another Brit contesting a ‘world’ title on the Dubai bill is Liverpool’s Paul Butler (33-2, 15 KO’s) who looks ‘in deep’ with elite WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21 KO’s). The Englishman has fought at a good level and will give the usual good account of himself but, is unlikely to take the title. It will be some achievement should he do so against a quality champion. We wish him well.

The Lomachenko v Commey fight will be shown live on Sky Sports in the early hours of Sunday morning and will be preceded by the big card from Liverpool on the DAZN streaming channel – Saturday start time 18:00.

The Probellum card will be shown on subscription channel Premier Sports2 and Boxnation available on the Sky platform. Start time Saturday 16:00. All timings GMT (UK time).

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