by David P. Greisman
June 21 will bring a highly rare occasion — a Top Rank fighter on a card put on by Golden Boy Promotions. On that day, Vasyl Lomachenko will face Gary Russell Jr. for a vacant featherweight world title on a tripleheader broadcast by Showtime from the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Russell is one of numerous boxers who is advised by Al Haymon and who has been fighting on Golden Boy shows. He is 24-0 with 14 knockouts.
“I haven’t thought very much of Gary Russell,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum in a brief conversation about the fight with BoxingScene.com. “I mean, a lot of people say he’s very talented, which he probably is. But I think they haven’t had him fight peak kind of guys, and that the quality of opposition Lomachenko has faced, both in the amateurs and even in the professionals, has been higher.”
Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, had six wins in the World Series of Boxing and then had his first non-WSB pro fight last October, when he scored a fourth-round knockout of Jose Ramirez. And then in March, he challenged Orlando Salido for a featherweight title, losing by split decision. Salido came in overweight, though, losing the title on the scales and allowing Lomachenko and Russell to fight for it.
“Lomachenko was surprised by Salido, first of all he came in overweight, and then was so much heavier than Lomachenko was in the fight, and also was allowed by the referee to do so many fouls, and yet he [Lomachenko] almost pulled out the fight,” Arum said. “And one thing he showed is he can go the 12 rounds.”
“I like Lomachenko’s chances against Russell. It’s a good fight. It’s a quality fight. We tried to win the purse bid. They [Golden Boy] outbid us by a little bit. But the fight goes on. And it goes on in California, so that’s fine. Nobody worries about unfairness. And now that Oscar is in charge of Golden Boy, it’s further reason to relax and to know that everything will be fair.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]