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Lomachenko’s in a Rush

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)


Gary Russell Jr., he ain’t.
 
Because Vasyl Lomachenko isn’t wasting any time on his pro career and getting to where he wants to be. On Saturday night on the pay-per-view portion of the Tim Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, he faces Jose Ramirez, 25-3 (15), in his official pro debut – in a 10-rounder. After that, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from the Ukraine is aiming for a major featherweight title.
 
Asked during his media day last week at the Wild Card Boxing Club when he decided to put himself on the fast track, Lomachenko responded, “Right away, after the second Olympic Games and the World Series of Boxing.”

(Speaking of the World Series of Boxing, Lomachenko participated in six bouts that were not supposed to count against his professional ledger but are being listed by Fight Fax in its official records.)
 
“I just felt I could do it and I wanted to make history and I don’t want to be a regular fighter. I want to be the best and I want to make history,” said Lomachenko, whose amateur résumé is as impressive as anyone’s in history. In amassing a 395-1 mark, he won two Olympic gold medals (in 2008 and 2012) and took the top spot in the 2009 and 2011 World Championships.
 
As he began searching for a promoter, he clearly dictated the terms of how he would be moved as a professional.
 
“Absolutely,” said Bob Arum, whose company, Top Rank, secured his services. “They asked me what plans I would have and I did the traditional, ‘You start with a six-round fight,’ and [Team Lomachenko] said no. They wanted to fight for a title right away. Well, I said, ‘That, you can’t do but I can match you with a contender right away and if you win, you’re eligible for a title fight.’ He’s fighting for [the WBO] international title in his first fight. That’s what they wanted and this kid is a special kind of fighter. Let’s be honest about it.”
 
Traditionally, Top Rank likes to move its prospects slower, letting them learn and develop over the long haul. But Arum says, “You gotta understand who you’re dealing with. You’re dealing with Ukrainians who have reputations for being very stubborn and really quite confident.”
 
Lomachenko’s manager, Egis Klimas didn’t attempt to dissuade his fighter from his ambitions.
 
“Because I feel he has the potential and I’m one of those managers if you realize from the past, I never protect my fighters. I believe if a fighter cannot fight today, he cannot tomorrow,” he said. But what if he should struggle this weekend? “I don’t think he’s even going to struggle with that. He has very good stamina. I saw his sparring - and of course, sparring and fighting is a different thing - but I saw the way he trained. He worked with the best trainers and conditioners and they’re all surprised.”
 
Klimas adds confidently, “I think he’s going to make history.”
 
Should he come out clean on Saturday, the early plan is for Lomachenko to face the winner of the bout between Orlando Salido and Orlando Cruz, who fight for the vacant WBO featherweight belt on the same bill.
 
There’s no denying this southpaw’s skills, at least as an amateur. As you see him moving around the ring and executing various drills, you can visualize the professional upside. But there is a huge difference between boxing with headgear and participating in fights that only go a few rounds and competing for money against more experienced boxers in bouts scheduled for 10 and 12 rounds.
 
There is a long list of storied amateurs who could never quite make the adjustment to the pro game. But it’s hard to hold back someone this talented and ambitious.
 
“Right now, it’s hard to say but I think on October the 12th, I’m going to show if I need to change or if I need to make adjustments,” said Lomachenko, who has no problems swimming in deep waters if need be. “If I felt I’d have any kinds of problems, I would never risk it.”
 
THE PLAN
 
A potential bout against either Salido or Cruz might be scheduled for January 25th at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which has a large community from the former Soviet Union in that region. This could be a base for Lomachenko.
 
“We make a mistake in lumping them in together,” points out Arum, “like [Gennady] Golovkin has like Russian blood but he’s not Russian. He’s Kazakh. Vassiliy Jirov [is] Kazakh. This kid here is Ukrainian and if you say that he’s Russian, he’ll punch you out. Even Yuri Foreman [is] from like Belarus. So we have to be alert to that.
 
“In other words, it’s like if we said [Miguel] Cotto is an American. Yeah, but he’s really Puerto Rican.”
 
TIX
 
I’m hearing that ticket sales for this card are sluggish at best. While the Wynn Hotel made a pretty large commitment for tickets, actual sales out of the box-office to the general public are flagging.
 
I think there might be a couple of reasons for that. First, this fight might have been overpriced with $800 being the top price (and with not that many $50 seats being available). Also, I’ve been told this by more than one disgruntled fan: they don’t want to go to the Thomas and Mack Center. Not really for the fact that it’s an older arena (which it is. The last time it was state-of-the-art, Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony were blowing teams out as UNLV Runnin’ Rebels) but it’s a bit of a hassle to get there. More problematic is getting a cab back to the strip or wherever you’re going. Now that’s a huge hassle. I’m told your best bet is to walk to the nearby Hard Rock Hotel and fetch a taxi there.
 
Also, while Bradley-Marquez is an intriguing fight, neither has ever truly been an A-side on a big pay-per-view event before. It will be interesting to see how many buys this event does when it’s all said and done.
 
TNR
 
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly, where we review last week’s HBO card and this upcoming pay-per-view show:
 
 
SOE
 
My latest contribution to SportsOnEarth.com on Tim Bradley and the personal aftermath of his victory over Manny Pacquiao last year:
 
 
LOMA FLURRIES
 
 
When asked to name some fighters he admired while growing up, Lomachenko listed: Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones and Kostya Tszyu...Arum says a dream match-up for him is a bout between Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux...“LL” (Lennox Lewis) facing one of the Klitschko’s? For $100 million you can absolutely call that a comeback... It was announced on Wednesday that heavyweight Bryant Jennings has signed with Gary Shaw...Saw a great segment on Roy Green on NFL Films Presents. Green was one of the best wideouts of the ‘80s...“A Football Life” on Matt Millen was very interesting. I actually came away really impressed by Millen and how openly he spoke of his failed stint running the Detroit Lions...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.
 


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