LOS ANGELES -- It was a fight that he did not want, but top pound-for-pound fighter Vasiliy Lomachenko retained his lightweight world title on Friday with a brutal fourth-round knockout of mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla at Staples Center.
Lomachenko connected on a clean right hook that knocked Crolla out face-first in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card before an announced crowd of 10,101.
Lomachenko retained his WBO title for the second time and barely broke a sweat against Crolla, a former 135-pound world titleholder who was simply not in the same league as his adversary.
Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KO's), 31, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, was initially expected to defend his belt against IBF titlist Richard Commey. Top Rank already had a deal in place for the winner of Commey and Isa Chaniev on Feb. 2 to face Lomachenko. However, Commey injured his right hand during the process of knocking out Chaniev in the second round and was forced to rest his hand for six weeks.
Crolla (34-7-3, 13 KO's), 32, of England, became the beneficiary overnight, but also the victim.
It was a typical first round for Lomachenko, taking his time to study his opponent. For Lomachenko, it usually takes about three rounds to warm up, but he kicked it up a notch.
Lomachenko ripped a three-punch combination in the second round, including an uppercut, that rocked Crolla.
Like a sniper at the shooting range, Lomachenko was landing everything, and Crolla was getting torn to shreds with straight left hands and pulverizing body shots.
Referee Jack Reiss scored a knockdown at the end of the round because the ropes allowed Crolla to stay on his feet, which created some confusion ringside as several officials, and even Lomachenko, thought the fight had been stopped.
It had not, but in hindsight, Crolla would have probably appreciated it.
Lomachenko teed off on Crolla and finished him off with a clean right hook to the side of his head that knocked him out face-first.
It was a dominating victory for Lomachenko, who has knocked out or stopped eight of his last nine opponents.