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Russell Jr. questions why Lomachenko is getting another title shot

Gary Russell Jr. Vasiliy LomachenkoBy Chris Williams: The World Boxing Organization surprised a lot of boxing fans this week when the WBO president Francisco Varcarcel ordered a fight between #1 WBO Gary Russell Jr. (24-0, 14 KO’s) and the recently beaten and arguably totally undeserving Vasyl Lomachenko (1-1). The fight between these two fighters will occur by July at the latest. What was surprising about it was that Lomachenko was beaten in his last fight by Orlando Salido on March 1st of this month, and here the WBO are giving him Lomachenko another shot at a world title.

In other words, they’re handing a fighter with a 1-1 record back to back world title shots. Russell Jr. is happy to be fighting for a world title, but he wonders why the WBO let Lomachenko bypass all the other world title challengers that the WBO has ranked. Russell Jr. feels that the WBO’s decision to give Lomachenko two shots at a world title is making a mockery of the whole idea of having rankings and a sanctioning body to oversee it. He felt that it was odd that Lomachenko was given a world title shot with a 1-0 record against Salido, but now that the WBO is letting Lomachenko get another world title, he seems it as politics coming into play to allow the Ukrainian fighter another shot.

“The WBO title is definitely something that we want, but there’s no question that politics played a big part in this situation,” Russell Jr. said to RingTV. “First of all, I think that it’s completely disrespectful to the sanctioning body. It’s also disrespectful to all of the other fighters for this guy to have an opportunity to compete for a title after only one fight. Then, he loses, and he gets an automatic shot at the title again in only his third fight?”

I have a feeling that even if Lomachenko loses to Russell Jr., we’ll soon see him get yet another world title fight, whether that be with the WBO or one of the other three world sanctioning bodies. It’s incredulous that Lomachenko was allowed to fight for a world title with a 1-0 record in the Salido fight, but it just looks really bad that he’s getting another shot after his loss to Salido. That was not a good performance from Lomachenko with all the holding he did in the fight, and he didn’t fight like someone who deserves another title fight.

It’s got to be tough for all the other top contenders that the WBO has ranked in their top 15 at featherweight to see themselves waiting for years to get a title shot, and then seeing Lomachenko get two world title shots with only 1 to 2 fights on his pro resume. It doesn’t matter that he’s won two Olympic gold medals. He should still have had to fight his way to a world title fight rather than getting an inflated ranking after one win as a pro.

You have to wonder whether Russell Jr. would be given another world title shot in his next fight if he were the one that was beaten by Salido. If this was something that was happening to everybody, then it wouldn’t be an issue, but it looks like Lomachenko is getting favoritism.


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