Lomachenko passes on Kambosos title shot to defend Ukraine against Russian assault
Haney offered the opportunity to replace Loma in the fight
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For the past few weeks, promoter Lou DiBella and Top Rank’s Bob Arum have had a deal agreed to for unified lightweight world champion George Kambosos Jr. to defend against former unified champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.
However, Lomachenko has bowed out of finalizing the fight to instead remain in his home country of Ukraine and assist in the war effort against the unprovoked invasion of neighboring Russia rather than leave for training camp, which he would have had to do in the coming days.
DiBella told Fight Freaks Unite that Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager, told him late Sunday night of Lomachenko’s decision to decline the title fight, which was being planned for June 5 (June 4 United States time) on ESPN at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, Kambosos’ home country.
With Lomachenko out of the fight, DiBella said he has presented WBC titlist Devin Haney with the same offer Lomachenko accepted.
“Egis thanked me and George for giving Loma the opportunity to fight for the title again and for time to make his decision given what is going on in Ukraine,” DiBella said on Monday. “I sort of had an inkling the other day when the Ukrainian government OK’d Lomachenko to leave to go train for the fight but then we didn’t hear back from Egis or Top Rank about it right away. So, this is not a big surprise. What Loma is involved in is obviously a lot bigger than boxing.”
Because of the war, Lomachenko, along with close friend and reigning unified heavyweight world titlist Oleksandr Usyk, joined a defense battalion. Arum said Lomachenko is stationed near the Black Sea port city of Odessa.
“The Russians are firing rockets from ships at Odessa. It’s major port. He’s in very (much) harm’s way.”
In recent days, however, Arum said that Klimas told him the government had given Lomachenko permission to leave the country to train for the fight but he declined to leave. In Ukraine, men between ages 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave and must aid in the defense against Russia.
“From the standpoint of what he did it was very courageous and I can understand completely why he did it,” Arum said. “From the standpoint of pure boxing I’m disappointed because it was an opportunity to win back all the titles and it was gonna be a massive fight, and it’s not gonna happen.
“But certainly I sympathize completely with Lomachenko. I understand what his position is. It was a very courageous position and I blame only person for this whole travesty and that’s (Russian president Vladimir) Putin.”
Now, Haney, who has wanted the fight, will have his chance, DiBella said.
“Devin will have the same opportunity to take the fight on the same terms that Lomachenko accepted, which is what he said he would do and what he wanted. He is being given that opportunity,” DiBella said.
DiBella said he is discussions with DAZN, where Haney has fought exclusively for his past six fights since 2019, but is not contractually tied to the streaming service or house promoter Matchroom Boxing, about being involved in the fight.
If DAZN does not do the fight, Top Rank would possibly have interest in acquiring the rights for ESPN to show it in the United States.
In a major upset, Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs), 28, the mandatory challenger, defeated Teofimo Lopez by split decision on Nov. 27 in New York in a fight of the year contender. In his previous fight, Lopez had upset three-division champion Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs), the former consensus pound-for-pound king, by decision in a unification fight in October 2020.
Lomachenko, 34, has won two one-sided fights in a row since, taking out Masayoshi Nakatani in the ninth round last June and routing former titleholder Richard Commey by lopsided decision on Dec. 11.
Haney (27-0, 15 KOs), 23, of Las Vegas, has made four title defenses, most recently a unanimous decision over former junior lightweight titlist Joseph Diaz Jr. on Dec. 4 in Las Vegas. Haney was elevated from the WBC interim titleholder to full titleholder when Lomachenko sought the organization’s “franchise” title and pursued the bigger fight — and an easier one to make — with Lopez rather than defend against Haney.
Lomachenko photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
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