Regarded by many as the pound-for-pound king, Vasyl Lomachenko will make another lightweight title defense when he takes on Anthony Crolla Friday night inside the Staples Center. The undercard fights start at 8 p.m. ET, and the main event is scheduled to begin at 11 p.m. ET.
While it won’t be broadcast nationally on television anywhere in the US, you can watch a live stream of Lomachenko vs Crolla via ESPN+, the digital streaming service from ESPN that includes a bunch of different live sports (including Top Rank boxing and UFC), all the 30-for-30 documentaries and other original content.
You can start a free trial of ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch all the fights on the card on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or other streaming device via the ESPN app.
Or, if you don’t already have ESPN+ and you’re planning on ordering Saturday night’s UFC 236 (headlined by Max Holloway vs Dustin Poirier) event, you can purchase a one-year subscription to ESPN+ and UFC 236 for $79.99.
Lomachenko vs Crolla Preview
In December, Jose Pedraza became the first Lomachenko opponent to go the distance since Suriya Tatakhun accomplished the feat back in November of 2014, a span that stretched eight straight early finishes for Hi-Tech.
Still, despite that streak coming to an end, it was nevertheless a thoroughly dominant performance from the 31-year-old Ukrainian. He scored a pair of knockdowns in the 11th and ultimately finished with the 117-109, 119-107, 117-109 win to unify the lightweight belts.
“I am happy with my performance,” Pedraza said after that fight. “I went 12 rounds with the best fighter in the world. I knew what we were going up against. I thought it was a close fight until the knockdowns. At the end of the day, I am proud of what I did.”
That is the reality of facing Lomachenko, who is No. 1 on ESPN’s pound-for-pound rankings: His opponents are just happy to make it to the final bell.
Enter Anthony Crolla. He has won three in a row since a pair of defeats against Jorge Linares, but the 32-year-old Englishman stands as a massive underdog.
Still, that doesn’t mean he’s going to back down against the champ.
“To be fighting the best fighter on the planet, it shows that if you keep working hard, it does pay off,” Crolla said. I’ve had defeats in my career, but I’ve come back, and now I’ve got the biggest task of all. I’m not the most talented, but what I don’t have in talent, I make up for in hard work. I’m certainly one of those fighters who work for their success. You also need a bit of luck.”
If there’s a glimmer of hope for the challenger, it’s that Lomachenko, who began his career at featherweight, is naturally smaller than most lightweights. In his two fights at 135 pounds, he was knocked down in the sixth round of his eventual KO win over Linares, and then there was the aforementioned fight that went the distance against Pedraza.
“The lightweight weight-class is my maximum for now, and sometimes I don’t even think I belong here as the guys I am fighting are much bigger in size,” said Lomachenko.
That said, there’s the whole talent thing, and the discrepancy there is massive. Lomachenko may be smaller than Crolla, but he is a technical superstar and supremely talented. He’s one of the world’s most feared boxers for a reason, and if he doesn’t ultimately leave Los Angeles with a victory, it will come as a massive shock.
Also on the card, WBO world super middleweight champ Gilberto Ramirez (39-0-0, 25 KO’s) will make the jump to light heavyweight to take on former title challenger Tommy Karpency (29-6-1, 18 KO’s). There are some big names at light heavyweight, such as Sergey Kovalev, Dmitry Bivol, Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Marcus Browne, and if Ramirez impresses at 175 pounds, he could soon be in line for a fight against one of them.
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