Vasiliy Lomachenko’s courageous commitment to his country has forced him to withdraw from his shot at George Kambosos Jr.’s lightweight titles.
Lou DiBella, Kambosos’ promoter, informed BoxingScene.com on Monday afternoon that Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager, informed him earlier Monday that Lomachenko will not leave war-torn Ukraine to train for a June 5 fight against Kambosos in Melbourne, Australia. DiBella and Bob Arum, Lomachenko’s promoter, agreed to terms last month for Lomachenko to challenge Kambosos in a 12-round, 135-pound title fight ESPN agreed to televise from Marvel Stadium.
Once Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs) returned from Greece to help support military efforts in his native Ukraine, it became unclear if the three-division champion would move forward with the Kambosos bout. DiBella and Arum held out hope until Monday that the 34-year-old Lomachenko might decide to remain in the fight, though they both repeatedly expressed respect for the three-division champion’s stance on Russia’s invasion of his homeland.
DiBella told BoxingScene.com that he will now pursue a bout between Sydney’s Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs) and Las Vegas’ Devin Haney (27-0, 15 KOs) for June 5 at Marvel Stadium, which would be streamed or televised the night of June 4 in the United States.
“I spoke to Egis Klimas and he confirmed that Loma would not be available to fight George next,” DiBella said. “He thanked me and thanked Kambosos for giving him ample opportunity to make up his mind, and he thanked us for doing the deal in the first place. We had an inkling the other day, when the [Ukrainian] government had said it was OK [for Lomachenko to fight], but we didn’t hear an affirmative response [from Lomachenko], we had a sense that this was likely. So, we were not shocked.
“But Egis confirmed today that he’s gonna stay in the Ukraine. We commend him. We think the fight he’s fighting is much bigger than boxing. And our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family, and with the Ukrainian people. What they’re going through obviously is far more significant than any boxing match.”
DiBella has reached out to DAZN executives to give that streaming service an opportunity to carry the Kambosos-Haney fight in most countries worldwide June 5.
“We’ve always said that we’re fighting in a stadium in June,” DiBella said. “We’re gonna pursue the biggest opportunity that’s available [the Haney fight]. That’s what we said from the beginning. That’s what George’s instructions were to me. An offer has already gone out to DAZN, and Devin Haney will be given the same opportunity to fight on the same terms as Lomachenko had.”
Haney has fought exclusively on DAZN since May 2019, but the WBC world lightweight champion is not contractually committed to DAZN or Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, which has promoted Haney’s past six fights. Kambosos, who won the IBF, WBA, WBC franchise and WBO 135-pound crowns from Teofimo Lopez 3½ months ago, is not contractually tied to a network or streaming service, either.
Though Kambosos clearly is the ‘A’ side, a fight with Haney would afford the 28-year-old champion an opportunity to win the only lightweight title Kambosos didn’t win from Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs). Haney, 23, is recognized as the WBC’s legitimate lightweight champion, despite that Kambosos beat the man (Lopez) who beat the man (Lomachenko).
Haney beat Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (15-1, 9 KOs) by technical knockout after four rounds to win the WBC interim title in September 2019 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.
The WBC later elevated Haney to the status of world champion and named Lomachenko its franchise champion. Lopez upset Lomachenko by unanimous decision in October 2020 at MGM Grand Conference Center to win the IBF, WBA, WBC franchise and WBO belts.
Kambosos was the IBF’s mandatory challenger for one of Lopez’s championships when he upset Lopez by split decision November 27 at Hulu Theater.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.