Vasyl Lomachenko loves fighting at MSG, looks to claim Jose Pedraza’s title

If you ask WBA lightweight champion and arguably boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter Vasyl Lomachenko why he continues to fight at Madison Square Garden, the answer is simple for the Ukrainian star.

“It’s a historical place, so for me, it’s a big honor,” Lomachenko said, adding “I love this place!” He looks to add the WBO lightweight title to his collection when he faces Jose Pedraza in the unification title Saturday night at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

This will be Lomachenko’s fourth fight at Madison Square Garden. He points to the "boxing atmosphere” as what makes him most comfortable fighting at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

“I step in the ring, the people, they are holding the Ukrainian flag, their yelling ‘Loma, Loma!’ " Lomachenko said. "I feel like I’m in my home.”

Though Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is a fighter with few flaws, he still finds areas to improve as a fighter.

“I [am] always working on my defense,” he said. “Defense is very important in boxing. It’s one of the most important [aspects].”

In his last fight, Lomachenko was knocked down by Jorge Linares before knocking Linares out in the 10th round. For that, he only blames himself.

“I need to stay focused the whole fight,” he said. “It was a surprise, but it’s only my mistake. It’s not his smart move, his smart punch, it’s only my mistake.”

Lomachenko aims to maintain his concentration and eliminate mistakes Saturday against Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs), the current WBO champion, in a Top Rank on ESPN event that airs following the Heisman Trophy presentation.