By Keith Idec
Vasyl Lomachenko’s handlers have tried to make a Lomachenko-Orlando Salido rematch for each of Lomachenko’s last two fights.
It still hasn’t happened, but Lomachenko hasn’t given up hope of getting a chance to avenge his lone professional defeat. Salido defeated Lomachenko by split decision in just the second professional fight for the gifted southpaw, a 12-round featherweight championship match three years ago.
“I would like to fight him, but probably [within] a one-year period,” Lomachenko said through his manager/translator, Egis Klimas. “If it’s gonna be longer than that, I’m not gonna be interested in fighting him because that bout is not gonna bring me anything. But in general, yes, I would like to step back in the ring with him to show how much better I can be in our second bout.”
For now, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine will settle for an optional WBO super featherweight title defense against Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga on Saturday night in Los Angeles (ESPN).
Carl Moretti, Top Rank Inc.’s vice president of boxing operations, told ESPN.com a month ago that Mexico’s Salido (44-13-4, 31 KOs, 1 NC) turned down a $720,000 purse to face Lomachenko again Saturday night. That’s why Top Rank, Lomachenko’s promoter, turned to Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs), a choice that has drawn criticism because Marriaga lost a unanimous decision to WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) in his last fight, April 22 in Carson, California.
“We really wanted to launch the ESPN [series] with Lomachenko preferably in the rematch with Salido,” Top Rank president Todd duBoef said during the conference call Monday. “We were given representation that [Salido] was gonna take a tune-up fight in May and go forward with it. And, you know, they kind of dragged us out and said he had a hurt hand and he couldn’t make the weight.
“I mean, listen, our business model is a little different than what our business model has been in the past, where we had to wait on fights for fighters to stay active. So what we did was we said, ‘Listen, Vasyl is a commercially incredible fighter that we want the public to see. We’re not gonna be held up by an opponent. We’re not gonna be held up in a situation. We’re going to make him available, so that millions of people can watch him on ESPN, and they can see the story and see his brilliance.’ And that’s why we pivoted to Marriaga.”
Despite their inability to strike a deal with Salido throughout 2017, Top Rank executives haven’t given up on arranging a Salido-Lomachenko rematch for later this year. His split-decision defeat to Salido is the lone blemish on the 29-year-old Lomachenko’s professional record and has been questioned because Salido repeatedly hit Lomachenko low during that March 2014 bout in San Antonio.
“If Salido comes back,” duBoef said, “and says, ‘Listen, I’m ready for the fight. I’m sorry about all this stuff, I’m healthy now – let’s go,’ obviously we’ll talk to Egis and we’re all in. We’re here to make good matches and give the public what they want.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.