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Lomachenko to stay at 130; Oscar Valdez faces Rueda for vacant WBO 126 title

Vasyl Lomachenko Óscar Valdez


By Eric Baldwin: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says his fighter unbeaten Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) plans on staying at 130lbs rather than moving back down to 126 to resume defending his WBO featherweight title, according to Dan Rafael. Lomachenko recently moved up in weight to super featherweight earlier this month and defeated WBO 130lb champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez (29-3-3, 17 KOs) to capture his title on June 11 at Madison Square Garden, New York.

Lomachenko’s now vacant WBO featherweight title will be fought over next month by unbeaten #1 WBO Oscar Valdez (19-0, 17 KOs) and #2 WBO Matias Carlos Adrian Rueda (26-0, 23 KOs) on July 23 in the co-feature bout on the undercard of the Terence Crawford vs. Viktor Postol card on HBO pay-per-view at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Arum also promotes the 25-year-old Valdez, which means there’s a very good chance the WBO 126lb title will stay in the Top Rank family rather than going to an outside fighter from a different promotional company. The Argentinian Rueda, 28, is a big puncher though, and he could make it hard on Valdez in trying to capture the vacant WBO featherweight title.

“He’s going to stay at 130,” Arum said about Lomachenko to ESPN.com. “We’re preparing for Oscar Valdez to fight for the vacant title on our July 23 card.”

The 84-year-old Arum plans to make an announcement next week about Lomachenko’s status and Valdez facing Rueda for the vacant WBO featherweight title.

Lomachenko, 28, looked sensational in stopping Martinez with a left hook to the jaw last month. Lomachenko dominated Martinez from start to finish in that fight, and made him look like he didn’t belong in the same ring with him. It was a really great showing for Lomachenko, as it was his first fight at super featherweight and he showed clearly that he belongs in this weight class.

There’s no word of how long Lomachenko plans on staying at super featherweight, but it’s likely he’ll stay long enough to fight a rematch against Orlando Salido and then fight guys like Francisco Vargas, Jezreel Corrales, Takashi Miura, Jhonny Gonzalez, Takashi Uchiyama, Javier Fortuna, Nicholas Walters, Jose Pedraza and Miguel Berchet.

It’s very likely that Top Rank won’t be able to make even half of those fights, which means Lomachenko may need to move up in weight to lightweight very soon unless he wants to spend his best years fighting regular contenders and not the top level fighters in the super featherweight division. Lomachenko is too good of a fighter to be bogged down making simple title defenses against obscure contenders that the casual and hardcore boxing fans have never heard of before.

Lomachenko needs to get in and get out of the super featherweight fast when the big fight opportunities dry up. Some fights are a no-brainer for Lomachenko, such as Nicholas Walters, Vargas, Salido and Muira, but the rest of them likely won’t be big enough fights for it to be worth it for Lomachenko to stick around the 130lb division.

If Lomachenko moves up to lightweight, he can take advantage of some interesting fights in that weight class against Felix Verdejo, Terry Flanagan, Anthony Crolla, Jorge Linares and Dejan Zlaticanin. One other benefit of Lomachenko fighting at lightweight is he would be near enough to 140 to face WBO light welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford in a pay-per-view fight on HBO.

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