By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – One potential rematch for Vasyl Lomachenko was ruined Saturday night, but that didn’t stop him from taking questions about another.
Orlando Salido, the only boxer to beat Lomachenko, retired following his technical-knockout defeat to fellow Mexican Miguel Roman on Saturday night in Las Vegas. But Lomachenko says he would fight Gary Russell Jr. again if Russell were willing to move up from featherweight to super featherweight for their rematch.
The Ukrainian southpaw has heard Russell repeatedly mention how much he wants that fight, but Lomachenko hasn’t taken Russell seriously.
The 29-year-old Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs), who defeated Russell by majority decision in June 2014, also considers their promotional alignments to be obstacles toward making a rematch with Russell realistic. Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. promotes Lomachenko, whereas Russell works with adviser Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, which partners with various promoters to stage shows.
When asked after his technical-knockout victory over Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs, 1 NC) on Saturday night about boxing Russell again, Lomachenko said, “Yeah, but you know, it’s hard. Two different promotional companies. It’s, I think, too hard.”
Their first fight came together because it was ordered by the WBO as a battle for its then-vacant 126-pound championship. Showtime televised that fight, which Lomachenko won on two of the three scorecards at StubHub Center in Carson, California (116-112, 116-112, 114-114).
The 29-year-old Russell remains a featherweight and has won the WBC 126-pound championship since Lomachenko beat him 3½ years ago. Lomachenko moved up to 130 pounds last year and has made four defenses of the WBO super featherweight championship he won by knocking out Puerto Rico’s Rocky Martinez in the fifth round of their June 2016 fight in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist is considering moving up to lightweight for his next fight, though a Russell rematch intrigues him.
“You need to ask Gary, ‘Hey Gary, do you want this fight?,’ ” Lomachenko said. “I think he wants the fight just [when interviewed] on the camera, but not [in his] head.”
Russell (28-1, 17 KOs), a 2008 Olympian from Capitol Heights, Maryland, said recently as part of an interview during an FS1 boxing broadcast that he expects to return to the ring in February. He hasn’t fought since stopping Colombia’s Oscar Escandon (25-3, 17 KOs) in the seventh round May 20 in Oxon Hill, Maryland, but said he wants to box three times in 2018.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.