By Rick Reeno
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - Former three division world champion Abner Mares is not confident that Gary Russell Jr. would accept a fight with two-time Olympic gold medal winner Vasyl Lomachenko - even with a vacant WBO featherweight title at stake.
BoxingScene.com reported on Thursday that Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer, was ready and willing to match Russell (24-0, 14KOs) against Lomachenko (1-1, 1KO) for the vacant belt.
Russell is the mandatory challenger to the WBO belt. Prior to Lomachenko's fight with then champion Orlando Salido, the sanctioning body had ordered the winner to face Russell.
However, Salido lost his title on the scale when he failed to make weight for last Saturday's fight in San Antonio. The title remained vacant after Salido won a twelve round split decision over Lomachenko.
Because Salido was overweight and rehydrated to 147-pounds by fight night, the WBO is willing to give Lomachenko an immediate second crack at the belt.
Mares honestly admits that even he would have second thoughts about facing Lomachenko, so he certainly doubts that Russell would face him.
"First of all I don't even know if Gary would take the fight. Not to disrespect him or his team, but he is a TBA, to be announced, type of fighter. He doesn't pick his opponent until the week before the fight. This is a hard fight to just take when he's never even faced anyone. I think Lomachenko is in a different league right now," Mares told BoxingScene.com.
"Even for myself, if they offered me the Lomachenko fight I would have second thoughts. He's a great fighter."
However, Mares felt Lomachenko, and his handers, made a serious mistake in rushing his pro development by facing a fighter like Salido this early.
"That was too quick, too soon. There were other fighters that Lomancheko could have fought and he would have looked better against. They chose the wrong fighter. Salido is an experienced veteran and he knows how to win a fight. And how did he win this fight? By fighting dirty. He fought dirty and obviously he got the W," Mares said.Tags: Abner Mares , Orlando Salido , Gary Russell Jr. , Vasyl Lomachenko