Top Rank’s Bob Arum has outlined Vasiliy Lomachenko’s route into the new year. With April 12 the expected date for the return of Hi-Tech, a Los Angeles venue will host a lightweight unification bout between Vasiliy and the winner of Richard Commey vs Isa Chaniev who meet on February 2 for the vacant IBF strap.
Speaking to TalkSport at the Crawford-Khan presser on Tuesday, Arum was brief in his dissection of the year that lies ahead for his pound-for-pound star.
”We’re doing a fight February 2 for the vacant IBF lightweight title and both guys have signed to meet Lomachenko for April. If that happens, that will be his next fight.”
After Mikey Garcia decided to make the leap up in weight to face Errol Spence on March 16, his 135-pound title was subsequently binned as he skipped his mandatory, Richard Commey. Despite receiving his title shot in a much easier contest, Commey stated his disappointment of not getting the Garcia fight to British Boxing News.
”I’m disappointed that the fight with Mikey Garcia hasn’t happened. He is a very good fighter and I was looking forward to challenging myself against one of the best fighters out there.”
”My management and promotional team of Michael Amoo-Bediako and Lou DiBella worked very hard to try and make the Garcia fight. It disappointed me that Garcia’s team let negotiations drag on when they had no intention of fighting. I understand it is because they know it is a massive risk to fight me and lose any potential big paydays in the future.”
Commey isn’t short of confidence; despite us still being over a fortnight away from his title shot, the Ghanaian is already looking forward to a potential defence.
”Unlike some fighters, I will fight anyone, anytime and when I become world champion I will defend my title against the best opposition out there!”
In steps Lomachenko. Passing varying tests against the likes of Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jorge Linares and Jose Pedraza in the past year, a unification fight against the Commey-Chaniev winner will be seen as a light touch; Bob Arum is already looking past this bout in assumption that Loma will unify in style, setting him up for a trip to the UK this summer to face WBA mandatory — and former world champion — Anthony Crolla.
”For the summer, I’d like to bring him over here and arrange this Crolla [fight],” Arum continued, speaking in London on Tuesday. “I know Loma would love to fight in the UK.”
Lomachenko has made a couple of trips to the UK in the past year. In attendance for Anthony Joshua’s latest defence over Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, the 30-year-old was taken back by the spectacle a Joshua fight can produce. Speaking to Sky Sports after the fight, Loma joked about a future date in North London: “Maybe one day I will [get to fight at Wembley]. I need to have a fight with a very famous fighter in England. Maybe with Joshua?”
Accompanying his friend and fellow world champion, Oleksandr Usyk, to his victory over Tony Bellew late last year, Lomachenko has also been exposed to Manchester - the home of Million Dollar Crolla.
Crolla is a game competitor, heavily reliant on grit, heart, and body punching. His WBA world title win and defence against Darleys Perez and Ismael Barroso, respectively, raised his profile in the UK to unexpected heights between 2015-2016; he came crashing back down to earth with back-to-back defeats against Jorge Linares. At 32, with six defeats on his record, it’s widely believed that Crolla is in the twilight of his career.
Crolla has a Hatton-esque backing of Manchester, with a stadium fight against Lomachenko this summer not a million miles away. Old Trafford would be the preferred location, with the Manchester Arena still holding a healthy 21,000.
If Lomachenko passes these two tests in 2019, the demand for the Garcia fight will reach boiling point. We all know the political issues in making this fight a reality, however, a year in boxing is a long time.