Pacquiao vs Algieri Undercard: Preview, Prediction for Lomachenko vs Piriyapinyo

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2014

Pacquiao vs Algieri Undercard: Preview, Prediction for Lomachenko vs Piriyapinyo

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Saturday night in Macau, China, WBO featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko returns to action against experienced veteran Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo of Thailand. Lomachenko is perhaps the greatest amateur boxer in history and has already become a professional world-title holder within his first three fights. 

    Top Rank seems anxious to expand his visibility, and there can be few better venues for that than a Manny Pacquiao card. Piriyapinyo is an obscure opponent who no doubt came cheap since he lives much closer to Macau than a North American or European star. 

    This fight is all about building up Lomachenko for bigger things next year. 

Tale of the Tape

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    USA TODAY Sports
    Per Boxrec     Vasyl Lomachenko     Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo
    Record:     2-1, 1 KO     52-1, 33 KOs
    Height:     5'6"     5'5.5"
    Reach:     65"     Unlisted
    Weight:     126 lbs     126 lbs
    Age:     26     29
    Stance:     Southpaw     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine     Chonburi, Thailand
    Rounds:     28     379

    Obviously, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo is a far more experienced professional than Vasyl Lomachenko. He's fought over 50 more fights and 350 more rounds. 

    But the quality of fighter Lomachenko faced as an elite amateur is generally far beyond the vast majority of Piriyapinyo's competition. Aside from a challenge against Chris John in 2012, he's faced obscure and even low-quality opposition. 

Main Storylines

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Vasyl Lomachenko won two Olympic gold medals and compiled an amateur record of 396-1. He would have to be on any shortlist for the greatest amateur boxers who have ever lived.

    When Lomachenko turned professional in 2013, he wasted no time moving into the deep end of boxing's talent pool. He fought the experienced Jose Ramirez in his debut, winning by Round 4 knockout in a scheduled 10-rounder.

    In his second fight, Lomachenko faced the tough WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido. Salido didn't even try to make weight and was over 140 pounds by the night of the fight. He gave Lomachenko a crash course in the rough and bruising reality of professional prizefighting, winning by split decision.

    I thought Lomachenko deserved to lose that fight, but I was impressed by the fact that he got better as the fight went along and was in control for much of the latter third of the fight. He was clearly learning and implementing his new knowledge on the fly against a world championship-level opponent.

    Lomachenko faced fellow unbeaten Gary Russell Jr. in his third fight, capturing the vacant WBO featherweight belt by majority decision. This time, I thought Lomachenko clearly deserved to win. It's tough for me to see how judge Lisa Giampa scored the bout even.

    At just 26 and with a world-title belt already around his waist, Lomachenko is poised to become a breakout star over the next few years. Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo would seem a decided step down in competition.

    Piriyapinyo has an impressive record on paper, but he's fought some very low-level competition. Just this year he has faced a guy who was 2-2 and another who was 1-10.

    But Piriyapinyo did face Chris John in 2012. Although Piriyapinyo lost nearly every round, he did manage to rock the longtime champion in Round 7. The Thai native's power is legitimate.

Strengths

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vasyl Lomachenko is an outstanding technical boxer with extremely high ring intelligence. He does all the things one would expect from an amateur standout, such as controlling range and avoiding punches. But his ability to make tactical adjustments over the course of a 12-round fight separates him from many amateur stars.

    Lomachenko has a solid chin and good punching power, two other attributes that sometimes hold back the transition from amateur star to the professional ranks.

    Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo is a rugged pressure fighter. He has good power and can take a punch. He's fought over 50 professional fights and lost just once, so winning is habit for him.

Weaknesses

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vasyl Lomachenko has just three professional fights. Although he's been tough, that's still a very small base of knowledge to draw upon against an opponent who has logged as many 12-round fights as Piriyapinyo has.

    Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo is a slow starter. He leaves a lot of space to get hit, especially when he opens up his own offense. Chris John was nearly able to hit him at will in 2012.

Vasyl Lomachenko Will Win If...

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo is an aggressive fighter who comes forward with his head down. As a southpaw, Vasyl Lomachenko is going to need to be very careful about getting cut from a clash of heads.

    Piriyapinyo started slow against Chris John. The step up to an opponent with so much speed and skill seemed to freeze him behind his guard. So I think Lomachenko should look to get off to a quick start and prevent Piriyapinyo from getting into any kind of rhythm.

    Piriyapinyo's high guard made him very vulnerable to body shots against John. Lomachenko should attack the challenger hard downstairs.

    Piriyapinyo is a tough, grinding fighter who will keep looking to land a big shot for as long as he is in the fight. So Lomachenko has to avoid falling into a comfortable lull if he gets far ahead on the cards in the second half. He's got to treat Piriyapinyo as a potential danger for every second of the fight.

Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo Will Win If...

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    Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo has decent punching power, and he should look to make Vasyl Lomachenko respect that power as quickly as possible. I think he needs to try to get off to a quicker start in this fight than he was able to do against Chris John in 2012.

    Piriyapinyo attacks with a wide-open style, leaving plenty of space to get hit. He's going to need to be resigned to taking some punishment in order to land his own shots.

    Piriyapinyo allowed John to completely dictate the pace of their fight by ceding the great Indonesian champion in the battle of the jab. In this fight, I think he should resolve to work at establishing his own jab, even if that's an area where Lomachenko clearly enjoys an advantage.

    It's a strange thing in boxing: Often the only way to really deal with a great jab is to commit to your own jab. If Piriyapinyo doesn't try to disrupt Lomachenko's own jab by getting off first, he's resigning himself to being picked apart all night by a superior technician.

Prediction

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo is an obscure name to most western fans, and the only opponent he has faced who is not obscure is Chris John. Against John, Piriyapinyo was far out of his depth.

    I think the Thai native is an odd choice of opponent for Lomachenko. I can only guess he's been selected because he came cheap, not needing to fly into town a week early to adjust to the radical time-zone difference in Macau as a European or North American fighter would.

    But I have to think Top Rank is supremely confident in Lomachenko's ability to beat him. I can't see it risking a potential star like Lomachenko against a fighter this obscure. If Lomachenko was to drop to 2-2 against a fighter almost nobody in the United States has heard of, it would be a major setback for his career.

    Piriyapinyo did look to have a very good chin against Chris John, so I can see this one going the distance. But I think Lomachenko takes it by near shutout.

    Lomachenko looks to be a very exciting talent. Even in defeat against Orlando Salido, he showed a lot for a guy in his second professional fight.

    He could be the guy who unifies belts at featherweight. I also think he has the frame to win world titles at lightweight.    

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