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Arum says Lomachenko could fight Ray Beltran next, not Mikey Garcia

Jorge Linares, Mikey Garcia, Vasiliy Lomachenko boxing photo

By Chris Williams: Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank says newly crowned WBA World lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko will likely face WBO lightweight champion Ray Beltran next rather than WBC champion Mikey Garcia.

Arum didn’t sound positive at all when he answered questions about whether Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) will fight Mikey.

Lomacenko, 30, stopped WBA 135lb champion Jorge Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) in the 10th round with a left to the body last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight was televised on Top Rank Boxing on ESPN.

“Beltran is the obvious opponent,” Arum said about who Lomachenko will fight next in August.

Mikey is a very dangerous fight for Lomachenko, so it’s not surprising that Arum isn’t showing interest in making the fight. Beltran is an easy mark for Lomachenko, like most of the fighters he’s been matched up against. Mikey is like a better version of Orlando Salido, and we saw what he did to Lomachenko in beating him in 2014. You can say Mikey is Salido 2.0, but far more dangerous due to his power, speed and counter punching ability. I don’t think Arum wants that for his fighter Lomachenko, because the ramifications for him would be severe and long-lasting. A knockout loss for Lomachenko would be a major setback for his career. It would be like crossing the event horizon of a black hole in space. There would be no coming back for Lomachenko in terms of his popularity with the boxing fans. If Mikey knocks Lomachenko clean out, he could be stuck for the remainder of his days as a non-popular fight. On the flip-side, if Arum keeps matching Lomachenko in sure thing fights in which he’s got the victory the moment the contract is signed, then there’s a chance he could one day become popular enough for his fights to be sold on PPV. Right now, that’s not reality. Lomachenko still isn’t super popular. You can argue the reason for that is the safe match-making that’s been done for him by Arum. Instead of Lomachenko moving up to lightweight 2 years ago and facing Mikey Garcia, he’s stayed at super featherweight, fighting guys like Jason Sosa and Miguel Marriaga. Those fights were a waste of time for Lomachenko, because they were low level fights that the boxing public couldn’t get excited about them. Arum should have matched Lomachenko against Miguel Berchelt, and then moved him up to lightweight right away.

Mikey Garcia is expected to be fighting International Boxing Federation World lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. (21-0, 14 KOs) next, so he’s not going to be available to fight Lomachenko in August anyway.

It’s the way that Arum talked so negatively about the Lomachenko vs. Garcia fight last night that has some boxing fans wondering whether the 86-year-old promoter will choose to keep his fighter Lomo in another lane and never make the fight. If Arum waits too long to make the Lomachenko-Garcia fight, he could spoil it with one of them getting beaten by someone else and then the interest in the fight dying down to nothing.

“Mikey Garcia is a worse negotiation than [President] Trump is going to have with the North Koreans,” Arum said on Saturday. “Because of the way [Garcia] negotiates: ‘Oh, I’m loyal to [Stephen] Espinoza and I’m loyal to Showtime. I admire loyalty. If he’s loyal to Showtime and they’ve been good to him, let him be loyal to Showtime. Just don’t bother me. Lomachenko wants to fight often. We have all these dates on ESPN. With a Mikey Garcia [fight] it becomes the second coming of Mayweather-Pacquiao. The negotiations will go on. I’m tired of that. He wants to fight, let him call me. I’ll give him a number. If it’s not good, f**k it. I ain’t negotiating,” Arum said.

As you can see, Arum sounds very negative about the prospects of negotiating the fight between Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia. It’s sounds like Arum is dreading the challenging work that goes into negotiating. In that case, he should have someone else in his Top Rank organization take over the negotiations so that the fight can get made.

We don’t know whether Arum’s negative outlook on the negotiations for the Lomachenko-Garcia fight is because of hard it’ll be to put the fight together or simply him not wanting to take a risk with his fighter by putting him in with someone that could potentially beat him. Lomachenko came into the Linares fight last Saturday as the clear favorite.

It wasn’t seen as a 50-50 fight that Lomachenko could lose. It was almost a given that Lomachenko was going to win the fight. Did that influence Arum in being willing to make the Linares vs. Lomachenko fight? My guess is yes. If you go back to the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight years, which took place in 2015, Arum seemed less than eager to make the fight between them in the years leading up to them finally facing each other. Why would Arum not seem excited about making the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight? I think it was because it wasn’t a slam dunk fight in which Pacquiao would definitely win. There was a very good chance Pacquiao would get beaten by Mayweather, which ultimately is what happened. The thing is, when a fighter loses, as Pacquiao did, their popularity drops off the cliff and they don’t bring in the same kind of money as they did before. I think we saw that with Pacquiao’s PPV buys dropping dramatically after he was beaten by Mayweather in 2015. So, is Arum dragging his feet about the Lomachenko vs. Mikey fight because he’s worried about his fighter’s popularity, such as it is with casual boxing fans, evaporating overnight if he gets beaten by Garcia? It looks that way to me. That’s why I don’t think we’re going to see a fight between Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia unless the Ukrainian fighter insists that the match gets made. Even then, I don’t know. If Arum doesn’t want that fight, he’s the one that negotiations it and he might give up quickly out of frustration when he sits down with Mikey’s management in trying to put together a fight.

Ultimately, I believe that a promoter has to want to make a fight for negotiations to work. If a promoter is against a certain being made, I think they’re going to make it so difficult in the negotiations that the fight ultimately doesn’t happen. I hope that’s not the case with Arum when it comes to him being the guy that negotiates the Lomachenko-Garcia fight.

Arum promotes Ray Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs), and that makes it easy for him to put together a fight between him and Lomachenko. There’s no sweat involved in putting the Lomachenko-Beltran fight together. Of course, there’s also zero interest from boxing fans in seeing Lomachenko fight Beltran, but that’s beside the point. There was no interest from fans in seeing Lomachenko fight Miguel Marriaga, but Arum still made that fight.

Like last night’s fight, Lomachenko would be a huge favorite to beat Beltran, who is a slow-moving puncher, easy to hit fighter with decent boxing skills but he’s very limited. Beltran is the WBO lightweight champion, but you can argue the only reason for that is he fought 39-year-old Paulus Moses recently for that vacant strap rather than a good fighter like Mikey Garcia. Beltran vs. Garcia would be a total massacre in my view. Mikey would likely derstroy Beltran without even getting out of 1st gear. Lomachenko-Betran is a fight that Lomachenko would arguably have a 99% chance of winning, unlike the Mikey Garcia fight, which Lomachenko would be dealing with only a 50 percent chance at best of winning the match. That’s the way fights are supposed to be, right? But unfortunately, those AREN’T the fights that promoters want in many cases. They want to make sure their fighters are matched against guys that they know for a fact that they’re going to win. Unless the promoter is dead certain their fighter is going to win, they often are less than eager to make the fight against a quality guy. Is that why Arum isn’t so excited about making the Lomachenko-Garcia fight? I think it might be. Arum just saw what happened to Pacquiao after his loss to Mayweather, with his popularity and PPV numbers dropping. Lomachenko isn’t a PPV guy. The only way he has even a small chance of becoming a PPV fighter is for him to keep winning every time out, and looking good.

Lomachenko might not look good if he faces Mikey Garcia. Indeed, Lomachenko might look bad. Lomachenko was knocked down in the 6th round by Linares after getting hit with a good right hand. Linares is not a puncher like Mikey Garcia. If Lomachenko fights Mikey, he’s going to be getting hit with flush shots like the one Linares knocked him down with 10 to 20 times per round but with more power. Mikey is going to be nailing Lomachenko with shots that he’s never been hit with before. Lomachenko could be hitting the deck over and over against Mikey. It might even be embarrassing. If Lomachenko losses like that to Mikey Garcia, it’s career over with in my opinion. I don’t think Lomachenko could ever come back from a loss like that.

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