Vasyl Lomachenko says he thinks Jorge Linares is next opponent
By Jim Dower: Vasyl ‘Hi Tech’ Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) says he believes his next fight will be against WBA World lightweight champion Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) when he returns to the ring on May 12 on ESPN at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Lomachenko’s promoters at Top Rank are working on putting together the fight with Linares for earlier in the evening on the 12th of May. The last news on the fight was Top Rank promoter Bob Arum saying that they’re waiting to find out if ESPN will move an SEC women’s softball game to a different time slot so they can have the Lomachenko vs. Linares fight take place on May 12h. They can’t show the fight in the evening on that date, as it would interfere with the replay of Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin on HBO.
”I think it’ll be Linares,” Lomachenko said to Behind The Gloves, when asked who he’ll be facing next on May 12. ”Luke Campbell, I heard first time. Why not? In the UK there’s lot of people who understand boxing and a lot of top fighters.”
The Linares vs. Lomachenko fight needs to happen next if Top Rank wants to get to Linares before Mikey Garcia faces him. To understand how important, it is for Top Rank to make the Lomachenko-Linares fight next, one only needs to look back in Linares’ past when he was losing to the likes of Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson. Linares crumbles when he faces guys that can punch and have skills. The worry here is that if Mikey gets to Linares first, he’ll destroy him before Lomachenko gets a chance to fight dethrone him. The interest in a Lomachenko-Linares fight will evaporate overnight once Mikey defeats him. It’s doubtful Mikey will agree to a fight against Lomachenko, because he would need to work with his former promoters at Top Rank, and he might not be willing to do that.
Lomachenko’s reaction to a potential fight between him and British lightweight Luke Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs) suggests that Top Rank hasn’t informed him yet that they’re making a deal with Campbell’s promoters at Matchoom Boxing to co-promote the British fighter. Top Rank is reportedly putting together a 3-fight deal with the 30-year-old Campbell l that will lead to him facing Lomachenko in the beginning of 2019. As part of the 3-fight deal, the southpaw Campbell will fight in the U.S twice in 2018 in fighting in the summer and in the fall before facing Lomachenko early next year, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.
Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti met with Campbell’s promoter Eddie Hearn to negotiate the 3-fight deal last Saturday. Moretti says Hearn is on board with the deal for Campbell. He likes the deal. It’s a fight that would likely be a mismatch in favor of Lomachenko, but Campbell’s popularity will still likely go up just by him sharing the ring with such a great fighter ‘Hi-Tech.’ The 3-fight deal will give Campbell a lot of exposure in the States, and win him new boxing fans in that country. The first two fights of the 3-fight deal for Campbell will almost surely see him matched against guys that he can beat without any problems.
Top Rank isn’t going to throw Campbell to the wolves by putting him in with a good fighter at lightweight that could potentially beat him like Yvan Mendy. Campbell already lost once to Mendy by a 12 round split decision in December 2015. Top Rank won’t want to put him Campbell back in with the hard hitting Mendy. Right now, Campbell needs to be rebuilt by Top Rank by putting him in with a couple of soft touches to make him look sensational in the States. Since Campbell lost his last fight o Linares in the States, Top Rank needs to help make the U.S fans forget about his loss by matching him against a couple of beatable opponents in showcase fights. You can expect to see Campbell matched against someone like Ryan Martin or Henry Lundy. In other words, Campbell will be matched against guys the U.S hardcore boxing fans are familiar with.
“Eddie loves it. Luke loved it,” Moretti said to ESPN.com. “We’ll get into further details in the next couple of weeks.”
Lomachenko will be making his debut at lightweight against Linares on May 12 if the fight can get put together. In theory, Campbell would be a title defense for Lomachenko if he beats Linares to win the WBA 135 lb. belt, and if he decides to keep the strap. Campbell is ranked #2 WBC and #3 WBA at lightweight. He lost to Linares by a close 12 round split decision in his last fight on September 23 last year at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Campbell and his promoter Eddie Hearn believed they deserved the win, but the judges felt that Linares had done enough to hold onto his title. It appeared that Linares used his speed to dominate the first 4 and last 4 rounds of the contest. Campbell fought well in rounds 5 through 8. Each time Linares turned up the heat on his offense, he was too fast and skilled for Campbell.
2012 Olympic gold medalist Campbell and Lomachenko will face each other in the UK rather than the U.S. Campbell fighting in the U.S twice in 2018 is a move that Top Rank would be doing to help increase his exposure so they could build up a fight between him and Lomachenko in early 2019. Top Rank is trying to turn Lomacenko into a star, which won’t be easy because he currently fights in a weight class that doesn’t attract a lot of attention from the casual boxing fans. Moving up to lightweight will help Lomachenko attract a few more fans, but he still has work cut out for him to become a star in the States.
Top Rank needs to create a well-known opponent for Lomachenko so he can gain more of a following in the U.S, which is why they’re putting together a 3-fight deal to co-promote Campbell. This isn’t being done to turn Campbell into Top Rank’s next star. This is a move by the promotional company to build up Campbell enough to where the 30-year-old 2-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko will look better for having beaten him. When the time comes for Linares and Campbell to face each other in early 2019, Top Rank will be able to market the Lomachenko vs. Campbell by fight by advertising that it pits two Olympic gold medalists against each other. It would be the same thing that Top Rank did when they put together a fight last December between 2-time Cuban Olympic gold Guillermo Rigondeaux and Lomachenko at Madison Square Garden in New York. Unfortunately, the Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight was hardly a fair match, as the 37-year-old Rigondeaux had to move up two weight divisions from super bantamweight to face Lomachenko at super featherweight without the benefit of a catch-weight. Lomachenko used his greater popularity to reject fighting Rigondeaux at a catch-weight. The result was Lomachenko was huge compared to the much smaller Rigondeaux. The fight ended up being a terrible one with Lomachenko dominating a guy that didn’t belong in the same ring with him due to his size. This could have been avoided if Lomachenko had at least met the much older Cuban fighter halfway between their weight classes by fighting him at a catch-weight at 126.