Vasiliy Lomachenko undergoing shoulder surgery, could fight on December 8
By Chris Williams: Vasyl Lomachenko suffered a torn shoulder labrum in his right shoulder in defeating WBA World lightweight champion Jorge Linares on May 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lomachenko’s shoulder popped out of the socket briefly in round 2, but he was still able to continue to fight for the last 10 rounds. Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) won the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision to become a three-division world champion.
Lomachenko, 30, will be having arthroscopic surgery this week on Wednesday, which means he won’t be able to fight on August 25 against WBO lightweight champion Ray Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) like his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank was hoping he would. Lomachenko’s injury and Arum’s decision to match Lomachenko against Beltran in December, it means there won’t be seeing Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia in 2018. That would be a much better fight for the boxing fans than seeing Lomachenko fight Beltran.
Arum is still hoping Lomachenko will be able to fight on December 8 on a Top Rank card on ESPN.
Arum is still hoping to match Lomachenko against Beltran on December 8 in a Top Rank in house fight. However, there’s zero demand from the boxing public in a fight between Lomachenko and the 36-year-old Beltran, but it doesn’t matter. Arum wants the fight, so it’s probably going to happen. The boxing fans didn’t want to see Lomachenko fight Miguel Marriaga, Jason Sosa or Romuldo Koasicha, and the fights still happened. Beltran will likely still fight on August 25 on ESPN, but against another opponent. Beltran recently won his World Boxing Organization 135lb title against 39-year-old Paulus Moses in defeating him by a 12 round unanimous decision on February 16.
The injury might explain why Lomachenko was unable to throw power shots. He was hitting Linares with pitty-pat punches the entire fight, and it wasn’t until the 10th round that he was able to stop him with a left to the body. It was Lomachenko’s right shoulder that was injured though.
“I couldn’t use my right arm, throw my right hook, and it was very uncomfortable to continue my fight,” said Lomachenko to ESPN.com.
It was far from an easy fight for Lomachenko, as he looked slower on his feet with the added weight that he’d put on in moving up to lightweight. Linares was able to knock Lomachenko down in round 6 after hitting him with a right to the head. The reason Lomachenko was knocked down had nothing to do with his shoulder problem. He simply walked into a right hand from Linares and got put down on his backside on the canvas.
Lomachenko thought he could walk Linares down like he’d done in his recent fights against Guillermo Rigondeaux, Miguel Marriaga and Jason Sosa. Linares is not the type of fighter that can be walked down with in primitive manner the way that Lomachenko tried to do early in the fight. Once Lomachenko realized that he couldn’t beat Linares the way that he’d done against his past opponents, he changed his game plan to use speedier movements. Lomachenko still got hit a lot even when he adapted due to Linares’ fast hands and the way he was able to react quickly to what he Ukrainian was doing inside the ring.
Lomachenko’s shoulder surgery will be performed in Los Angeles, California by surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Clinic. Dr. ElAttrache thinks Lomachenko will be able to resume fighting in December under a best-case scenario. It’s unclear what a worst-case scenario would be. It could take many months for Lomachenko to come back from the injury. It might not be the smartest thing for the 86-year-old Arum to stick Lomachenko back in the ring right away against Beltran when he does come back from the injury.
Arum obviously wants to put his two Top Rank lightweight world champions in with each other, but in this case, it might be better for the aging promoter to resist his urge to make an in house fight right away and instead let Lomachenko fight someone easy so he can come back from his shoulder surgery slowly rather than going straight into a unification fight. That would be a questionable move for Arum if he makes the Lomachenko-Beltran fight right away. There are obviously better fighters at lightweight than Beltran, but he’s still a tough opponent along the same lines as Jason Sosa in terms of talent. If Lomachenko takes the fight with Beltran and winds up reinjuring his shoulder, Arum is going to be criticized heavily by fight.
ElAttrache says that Lomachenko’s torn labrum is especially bad, but he still believes that he could possibly return to the ring in December.
”His is pretty extensive,” ElAttrache said to ESPN.com about Lomachenko’s torn labrum. ”A typical tear usually goes from about 2 o’clock if you’re looking at the face of a clock down to about 6 o’clock. His goes almost all the way around. I would say he has significant instability of his right shoulder.”
There’s no way of knowing how long it’ll take for Lomachenko to come back from the injury. It’s guesswork. That’s why it seems a little ambitious on Arum’s part to be already hoping that Lomachenko will be able to fight in December. It might be better for Arum to let Lomachenko rest for the remainder of the year before he starts planning his next fight, because Beltran isn’t going anywhere. The boxing public isn’t beating down the door of Top Rank demanding to see Lomachenko fight Beltran.
The only fighter the boxing fans want to see Lomachenko fight at lightweight is WBC champion Mikey Garcia. That’s it. There’s no one else at lightweight that the fans care to see Lomachenko fight other than Garcia, which is why it would be smart for him to think about moving up to 140 soon, because his career is going to stall out at lightweight once he fights Garcia, especially if he’s being pushed to fight guys that the fans have no interest in seeing.
Arum had hoped Lomachenko would be able to fight on August 25 on ESPN at The Forum in Inglewood, California. That would have been a 3-month turnaround for Lomachenko. Getting back into the ring that fast after the punishment Lomachenko took against Linares would have been a mistake. A three-month turnaround works if a fighter doesn’t sustain punishment in their fights, but that wasn’t the case with Lomachenko’s fight against Linares. He took punishment, a lot of punishment against Linares.
Arum had had a chance of plans last week after he found out that Lomachenko had injured his shoulder in the Linares fight. Lomachenko already vacated his WBO super featherweight title, as he decided to keep his WBA 135lb belt, because he believes there are bigger fights at 135. Like I said, there’s one big fight for Lomachenko against Mikey Garcia. Unless Lomachenko wants to fight Linares a second and third time, he’s going to run out of opponents once he faces Mikey Garcia. Arum likes to do rematches, so it’s possible we could see Lomachenko fight Mikey and Linares again. I’m not sure if that’s the best use of Lomachenko’s career. Ideally, it would be better for Lomachenko to move on if he beats Mikey and look to fight some guys from 140 and 147 lb. weight classes like Regis Prograis, Josh Taylor and Manny Pacquiao. Arum is already interested in matching Pacquiao and Lomachenko together. He hasn’t said anything about wanting to match Lomacheno against Prograis or Josh Taylor.
Lomachenko is in good hands with Dr. ElAttrache, who has operated on Manny Pacquiao to repair his shoulder problem after his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015. ElAttrache also operated on Andre Berto, former heavyweight world champion Vitali Klitschko, former basketball star Kobe Bryant and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Lomachenko has been having problems with his right shoulder for some time now, but the pain would disappear after he would apply ice to his shoulder. It’s unclear whether Lomachenko has been fighting with a partially torn labrum for a while. In hindsight, Lomachenko probably should have had an MRI done on his shoulder when he first started feeling pain instead of waiting until the pain was constant.
If Lomachenko can’t return in 2018, then he’ll only have one fight to show for himself this year.
Lomachenko fought three times in 2017 and three times in 2016. Lomachenko is one of the busier fighters, which has helped increase his popularity even though he still hasn’t been matched against an opponent with a big enough name and talent to create a lot of interest in his fights with the boxing public. Lomachenko needs the likes of Mikey Garcia, Manny Pacquiao, Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor.