“I think it’s going to feel like a sparring match,” he said. “Most probably something like that. I have tried to picture it in my head, see what it would look like… something like 50 to 70 people will be there"
By Anthony Cocks
WBA and WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko 14-1 (10) and IBF counterpart Teofimo Lopez 15-0 (12) have reached a deal for a unification bout with the working date of October 17.
Lopez baulked at the original purse offering of $1.2 million for their highly anticipated showdown with Lomachenko reportedly set to earn $3.25 million.
The back-and-forth negotiations have resulted in a larger share of the revenue for Lopez, who is now believed to be earning around $2 million.
The fight is expected to take place without a live audience, meaning promoter Top Rank will lose out on a substantial revenue stream from the live gate.
"People need to stop sticking their nose in things they don’t understand," the 23-year-old Lopez said to ESPN after the deal was made.
"I was just more frustrated about the fact that [I knew] the fight was going to get made, it was just – how are we going to get this done?
“Obviously, there were numbers thrown at me, that I knew that with ESPN and everything, once [those details] came to the table, it was different. That’s all."
The dynamic Lopez ridiculed claims the extra money he will be making is coming out of Lomachenko’s pocket.
"We were going to make the fight happen, of course. It was just a matter of who’s getting what," said Lopez.
"They’re throwing out bullshit, like that Lomachenko put out part of his cut to make the fight happen with me and give me something like $800K out of his cheque.
"That’s false, and I hate the fact that people are throwing it out there and making it sound like he dug into his own pocket. C’mon man... I wouldn’t allow it, I wouldn’t want to accept something like that."
Earlier this week, Lomachenko flagged the fight was about to be signed.
“I haven’t seen the contract, but my understanding the contract is already in place,” Lomachenko said to Loma Official TV.
“We should be signing it this week, but all the verbal agreements have been made.
“The only question now is whether it’s going to be on ESPN or on pay-per-view. We are waiting for the official announcement from our promoter and the organizers of the match. That’s it.
“I have said yes to it, and it doesn’t matter to me what the contract looks like and what the details are. I am ready. What is the date? The third. I’m in for it, let’s go. That’s my position.
“What’s his position? I don’t know, but judging from everything, he isn’t avoiding it in any way either.”
The 32-year-old Ukrainian southpaw added that he is thankful to Lopez for doing all the heavy lifting to promote the fight.
“He’s great. I have already said it. He’s doing all the work for both of us. I don’t need to shout anything. I don’t need to proclaim anything at all,” he said.
“I don’t need to tease him or humiliate him. He does everything. He is promoting the fight. They are doing it with his dad, by the way, and they are doing it really well too. That’s why – thanks, guys.”
The prospect of no crowds will create a different feel for the fight, but Lomachenko insists the near-empty arena won’t bother him.
“I think it’s going to feel like a sparring match,” he said. “Most probably something like that. I have tried to picture it in my head, see what it would look like… something like 50 to 70 people will be there.
“It’s not that important to me whether there are spectators or there is none. There is a ring, there is an opponent, and there is a goal… I know what I want, plus I really need this title.”
The option of fighting an interim bout was floated ahead of the three-belt unification belt, but Lomachenko said he didn’t want to risk an injury delaying the fight.
That will mean Lomachenko will be coming off a 13-month layoff to face Lopez, by far the longest break of his professional career.
“We intentionally did not hold any interim fights to avoid the risk of another injury in such an interim fight,” he said. “It would be bad to let slip the IBF title because I had an injury and needed a pause.
“So we intentionally took a pause and waited for Teofimo to win the IBF title so we could negotiate joining the titles right after the fight.”
Asked whether he thought the 135-pound weight class was the most interesting in boxing, Lomachenko said he also kept an eye on the 130-pound division where exciting talents like Miguel Berchelt, Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, Jamel Herring and Jo-Jo Diaz live, while rising stars Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia are future forces at lightweight.
“I couldn’t say whether it’s the most interesting but definitely one of the most interesting classes, that’s for sure,” he said.
“Let’s not just take 135 but 130 to 135 because those are close weight classes. There are interesting guys and top boxers there, as well as in 135. So the prospects are very wide and exciting.”
And if any of the top super featherweights want to move up to fight him?
“I’m all in for it,” he said.