Lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs) will defend his WBA and WBO lightweight titles against Anthony Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KOs) tomorrow night on ESPN+, but it’s not exactly the fight he wanted.
Following Lomachenko’s last win over Jose Pedraza last December, the Ukrainian fighter was targeting a three-belt title unification against Richard Commey (who won the IBF lightweight belt), but with Commey injuring himself in his last outing that forced Lomachenko to settle for the next best thing — even if that option didn’t particularly move him.
“It’s a boxing life, sports life. I understand. It’s best choice after Commey. [Crolla] is mandatory. That is why I take this fight,” Lomachenko said on Wednesday at the final prefight news conference. “Of course, I don’t like it. It’s not good for me, but it is what it is.”
But despite Lomachenko not really being excited for this fight against Crolla, he says it hasn’t at all hindered his motivation in training camp as he sees the bigger picture. Lomachenko is motivated by fighting for history and legacy, not any one particular individual. Yet with a win over Crolla tomorrow, it’s expected that Lomachenko will get his shot a third world title later on this year.
What’s the endgame for Lomachenko, you might ask? Well it certainly doesn’t reside above the 135lb weight limit if you’re to ask the fighter himself. Lomachenko says he’s maxed himself out at 135lbs and says he has no intentions of stretching himself any further, so don’t expect him to try to make a run at 140.
“I cant. I can’t. For me, it’s 135; [140 pounds] is too much now,” he said about the prospect of moving up to junior welterweight. “My regular weight, my natural weight is 130 [the junior lightweight limit]. It’s comfortable for me, and [the opponents] are my size guys. But now, I fight with guys who are bigger than me. I can’t go the next weight class up, 140. I can’t. It’s too big, I think. Now, I stay at 135. I can’t jump every year [to] another weight class.”
As of now it seems that Top Rank is quickly running out of compelling fights for its talented fighter. Outside of Teofimo Lopez (which is a fight that’s sort of being built up), some of the most attractive fights for Lomachenko are against fighters outside of his promotional stable. That could make things difficult, but in boxing nothing ever comes easy. For now catch tomorrow night’s action streaming live on ESPN+, with the main card starting at 11 p.m. ET.