By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Bob Arum hopes Vasyl Lomachenko’s next fight is broadcast by HBO.
The premium cable network has invested in televising the uniquely talented southpaw’s fights throughout his 2½-year pro career. Two of his seven professional fights have been televised live on HBO and four have been broadcast as part of HBO Pay-Per-View undercards (the other aired on Showtime).
His spectacular fifth-round knockout of Puerto Rico’s Rocky Martinez on Saturday night marked the first time the two-time Olympic gold medalist headlined an HBO telecast. Arum wants that trend to continue.
If the network’s well-documented 2016 budgetary constraints cannot accommodate Lomachenko’s next fight, though, his Hall-of-Fame promoter won’t hesitate to make the emerging Ukrainian star the headliner of a pay-per-view event.
“I would hope that we do many more fights on HBO,” Arum said at ringside, following Lomachenko’s impressive victory in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. “If HBO doesn’t have the money and can’t come up with the money, then I’ll go to my pocket and do fights, like I’m doing with [Terence] Crawford and [Viktor] Postol on pay-per-view [July 23 in Las Vegas]. I’m not going to deter the development of these fighters – like Bud Crawford, like Postol, like Lomachenko – because of some company’s budgetary nonsense.”
Arum mentioned a rematch with Mexico’s Orlando Salido (43-13-4, 30 KOs, 1 NC), a previously explored showdown with Jamaica’s Nicholas Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs) and a fight against Mexico’s Francisco Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs) as potential options for Lomachenko’s next bout. Salido defeated Lomachenko by split decision in their 12-round fight, just the second outing of Lomachenko’s pro career, two years ago in Carson, California.
Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) owns the WBO featherweight title and the WBO world super featherweight championship, the title he won from Martinez, but is expected to remain at 130 pounds because there are more lucractive opportunities for him within that division.
The degree to which Lomachenko can cash in on his star-making performance against Martinez (29-3-3, 17 KOs) will depend largely on the license fee HBO is willing to pay for his next fight.
“HBO, they gave him the opportunity,” Arum said. “And HBO is the kind of network – it’s a great premium network – that whatever budgetary restraints [they have], they’ll find money for a superstar.
“If Muhammad Ali was around today, in his prime, and wanted another fight, another two fights, they would find money for a Muhammad Ali fight. They’ll find money for this kid’s fight because you’re looking at history here. You’re looking at history. This is not hyperbole. This is history. This kid is something special. We haven’t seen the likes of him ever – ever.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.