Layers Part 19: Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jamaine Ortiz

After his win over Richard Commey, Vasyl Lomachenko was taken out of action in the sport of boxing due to the war in Ukraine. Lomachenko decided to fight off the oncoming Russian invasion, much like his cohorts Oleksandr Usyk and Wladimir Klitschko. Ten months passed from the Commey fight to his fight with Jamaine Ortiz.

In this fight, Vasyl Lomachenko looked bad, if we are being frank. He didn’t have the same speed, cardio, or footwork that we’ve become accustomed to over his career. But he managed to get out with a win over a game opponent and despite a scorecard that had him winning by six rounds, Lomachenko had another scare by an opponent who wasn’t afraid of his antics.

Now 35 years old, Lomachenko is near the end of, if not past, his prime. At 135 pounds, the game comes and goes quick and his performance against Ortiz leaves one to wonder if this was a matter of ring rust or if Lomachenko is near the end of his storied career.

Ortiz gave a fantastic account of himself against the vastly more experienced Lomachenko. He was a former sparring partner of Lomachenko and that gave him some confidence going into the fight.

“I think the opponent in front of you brings out the type of fighter you are. I think Lomachenko is going to bring out the best Jamaine Ortiz. The fighter that everybody around me knows. You’re going to see the real ‘Technician’ on Saturday night.”

Loma, however, reminded everyone that sparring isn’t fighting and come fight day, Ortiz would know the difference. Leading up to the fight he said, “Sparring is different from competition because our conditioning is not at 100 percent, so Saturday night will be a very interesting fight.”

Jamaine Ortiz channeling his inner Teofimo

With Teofimo Lopez handing Vasyl Lomachenko his second pro loss and taking the belts away, the blueprint to beat and neutralize Lomachenko’s layered attack is in that fight. There, we saw Lopez bring pressure coming forward, much like the Orlando Salido fight earlier in Lomachenko’s career. Ortiz adopted that game early on.

Jamaine Ortiz really did a good job early on. As Lomachenko went to step in, Ortiz stiffened him up with a strong jab on multiple occasions. By the end of the first round, Ortiz bruised the eye of Lomachenko with the jab and a little help from the friction of his glove.

Lomachenko is a notoriously slow starter, as we know by this point in his career. He’s a “downloader,” much like Terence Crawford, and takes his time getting his reads. It was early on where Ortiz could, and did take advantage of this and put a bunch of offense out.

Figure 1

In figure 1 we can see how Vasyl Lomachenko uses the timing of his opponents against them. (1) Jamaine Ortiz is circling into Lomachenko and his power hand. But he isn’t quite set just yet and Ortiz is still in punching range. Lomachenko has a natural angle, a free one he doesn’t have to create. (2) As Ortiz circles to his right, Lomachenko fires a cross. But it’s the timing of this cross that is perfection. If you notice, Lomachenko throws this strike just as Ortiz is crossing over on his step. The rule of thumb in boxing is small steps so a fighter can keep their power base. Imagine more of a shuffle while dragging your feet instead of walking. But here, Ortiz is breaking that rule. He steps across at the wrong time and is in no position to counter. With his feet crossed, his power base is gone and he has no counter that’s effective. Lomachenko takes advantage of the crossing of his feet and circling into the power hand by throwing that strike. (3) And, of course, Lomachenko pours on the layers and follows up with a lead right hook. Ortiz rolls with the punch and due to being caught off guard on the cross, has no recourse for action.

After Lomachenko has you understood, he begins to unload. Around round four, he had the feeling of Ortiz and began to go to work. More comfortable with Jamaine Ortiz’s power, speed and timing, Lomachenko began to use his southpaw advantage and get the outside foot advantage. But here, he didn’t want to enter, fire, and exit. Instead, he would hang out in the pocket and be in position for good shots all the time.

But Jamaine Ortiz would show how he’s not scared of Lomachenko and when he would be in the pocket with his former sparring partner, he wouldn’t be afraid to box with the Olympian. Unfortunately, the pace required to keep up with Vasyl Lomachenko is almost inhuman and with the body work that Loma puts out, it was only a matter of time before Ortiz would fade.

Midway through the fight, Jamaine Ortiz was noticeably slower, his combinations were much less polished, and his power seemed to be gone. His punches came off with much less ferocity and Lomachenko would take advantage of it. Round seven would be huge for Lomachenko who would pour on the power shots and keep his foot on the gas to even further tire out his young opponent.

Figure 2

The skills of Jamaine Ortiz still showed despite his fatigue. In figure 2, we see Ortiz prepared to deal with the pivot from Vasyl Lomachenko. In frames 1 & 2, we see Lomachenko using his classic weaving and stepping in on his orthodox opponent. But, Ortiz is privy for what is going to happen and anticipates the jab-pivot sequence from Lomachenko. (2) When Lomachenko throws the jab, Ortiz rolls with the punch to mitigate it landing. Jamaine Ortiz knows Vasyl Lomachenko is going to pivot towards his left—Lomachenko’s right. With the pivot, the cross hand will move the furthest but Lomachenko’s head will be in a relatively similar spot. (4) Finally, Ortiz fires the uppercut that was loaded up naturally with the shoulder roll. Unfortunately for Ortiz, Lomachenko sees the strike coming and he stops the pivot before he gets caught on one leg. He also keeps his jab extended and pulls down to crowd the lane the rear uppercut is coming through. This highlights some of the defensive capabilities of Lomachenko. When you pivot, you risk the opponent throwing just that strike. Vasyl Lomachenko still operates at such a speed that he can see that punch coming and parry it.

The creativity of Lomachenko is still there despite his age. We’ve discussed the outside foot advantage that Lomachenko utilizes this entire issue of Layers. In Figure 3, we see another way Lomachenko uses his footwork to stay in the pocket with Jamaine Ortiz.

Figure 3

Looking at the first frame in figure 3 shows (1) Vasyl Lomachenko stepping in to get into range with Jamaine Ortiz. (2) Ortiz throws a jab out and Lomachenko sees it coming. On the step in, Loma sees the jab coming and slips to the inside. He also properly predicts that Ortiz will not want to stay in the pocket and exit to the rear. So to counter that, (3) Lomachenko steps forward with his rear leg effectively switching from southpaw where he spends most of his time and ends up in orthodox. Marvelous Marvin Hagler was a master with this and using the step through to red line his opponents. Unfortunately for the viewer, Lomachenko couldn’t get more offense off going here as Ortiz was wise to the trap and backs out against.

Despite all this, Vasyl Lomachenko would start to really get the best of Jamaine Ortiz in the last quarter of the fight. Lomachenko would stay in the pocket almost exclusively, use his head movement, and just beat up on Ortiz who, all in all gave a great effort. Ortiz would survive and make it to the end of the fight where Lomachenko would be declared the unanimous victor according to the judges.

Key Takeaways: Vasyl Lomachenko looked a step behind

All in all, Jamaine Ortiz saw his stock rise from this fight. He was generally seen as a sacrificial lamb going into this fight and he did more than anyone thought he would except for maybe his camp. Vasyl Lomachenko, looked bad. With the war in Ukraine raging on, it’s not hard to see why. Lomachenko hasn’t trained, he had an extended layoff, and he just looked slow. We didn’t get the blazing footwork we are used to seeing from Lomachenko and he really did look his age.

Now the stage is set for Lomachenko and Devin Haney, the newly crowned undisputed champ to fight. With how Lomachenko looked in the fight with Jamaine Ortiz, it would make sense that Haney is chomping at the bit to get in the ring with him. It’s only a matter of politics now.

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Layers Part 3: Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Gary Russell Jr.

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Layers Part 4: Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo

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Blaine Henry

Just your friendly neighborhood fight fan!

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