Vasyl Lomachenko was sternly tested by Jamaine Ortiz on Saturday night in New York, but ultimately won a unanimous decision.
The Ukrainian got the job done in his comeback fight after helping his country’s war effort, and will now look to take on Devin Haney in an undisputed title showdown next year.
The fight started with a positive start for the underdog.
As usual, Lomachenko started slow while observing his opponent’s style in the early rounds.
Ortiz took advantage and planted his jab to good effect, giving the Ukrainian a bruise under his right eye.
In round three, Loma upped the tempo and landed laser-accurate left hands.
One of them briefly staggered Ortiz, but he was unintimidated and continued to use his size to confuse his opponent.
As the rounds progressed, Lomachenko worked to close the distance more often and found a home for his shots with more consistency as a result.
As they reached halfway, Ortiz seemed to slow down slightly with a swelling under his left eye resulting from the forehand.
The American reacted well to that and got a second wind as he battled through rounds seven, eight and nine.
Lomachenko’s inactivity was telling as Ortiz capitalized and picked up points, seemingly taking the lead with three laps to go.
The Ukrainian responded by picking up the pace in the championship heats.
Ortiz had never done 12 rounds before and that was telling.
Lomachenko did enough to win these final sessions and therefore the fight.
The judges scored a unanimous decision with scores of 115-113, 116-112, 117-111.
Lomachenko and Haney met in the ring after the fight and verbally agreed to face off in 2023.