By Keith Idec
If a Vasyl Lomachenko-Jorge Linares fight can be made, Bob Arum wants to bring that lightweight clash to Madison Square Garden on May 12.
The Hall-of-Fame promoter told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday that he is confident his company, Top Rank Inc., and Linares’ co-promoters, Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, can come to an agreement for Ukraine’s Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) to make his lightweight debut against Linares (44-3, 27 KOs). Venezuela’s Linares owns the WBA lightweight title.
Eric Gomez, Golden Boy Promotions’ president, has been negotiating with Carl Moretti, Top Rank’s vice president of boxing operations, to finalize a deal for Lomachenko-Linares.
They’re trying to work through a scheduling snag because the date Top Rank has reserved for Lomachenko’s return, May 12, also is the night HBO will air the replay of the middleweight championship rematch between Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin and Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez. Golden Boy also promotes Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs), who’ll challenge Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) again May 5 in an HBO Pay-Per-View main event.
“Right now, we’re going ahead on Lomachenko and Linares,” Arum said. “We have an agreement in principle with [Linares’] lead promoter, Honda, and Carl is working out the details with Eric Gomez. They have a problem with May 12th because it’s the day they’ll show the [replay of] Golovkin-Canelo. But they can put the delay on at any time they want.
“Maybe we can work it out so that they can still get a good audience for that and we can still go ahead [with Lomachenko-Linares] on the 12th. The 12th is very important for us because ESPN wants it for that date because it’s right in the middle of the NBA playoffs. We’d have a tremendous lead-in to a Lomachenko-Linares fight.”
Ray Beltran also could become a prime option for Lomachenko’s lightweight debut.
Phoenix’s Beltran (34-7-1, 21 KOs) is set to meet Namibia’s Paulus Moses (40-3-1, 25 KOs) for the vacant WBO lightweight title Friday night in Reno, Nevada (ESPN; 9 p.m. ET). Like Lomachenko, Beltran is promoted by Top Rank, thus their fight is easier to make.
Arum prefers, however, to make Lomachenko-Linares next.
“The money and terms have been arranged, according to what Todd tells me,” Arum said, referring to Top Rank president Todd duBoef. “He negotiated with Honda. And now it’s just the [details] and so forth, and of course, the date.”
If Lomachenko-Linares materializes, Arum expects Lomachenko, who owns the WBO super featherweight title, to become a three-division champion.
“I think Lomachenko is the better fighter, clearly,” Arum said. “But, you know, he’s coming up in weight and he’s fighting a very experienced guy in Linares, who’s technically very proficient. So it’s a question if this is a bridge too far. As far as skill sets, I don’t think Linares is anywhere near Lomachenko.
“But Lomachenko is the smaller guy, essentially a featherweight now going up to lightweight. So the question is whether he can carry the additional weight. We’ll see. It’s hard to predict. Obviously, if we didn’t think he was able to do that, if his father didn’t think that, they wouldn’t have gone up to 135 so quickly.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.