Former unified lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko has returned to training, minus any work with his surgically repaired right shoulder, and unbeaten welterweight Alexander Besputin, who has not fought for more than a year, is scheduled to make his ring return, Egis Klimas, who manages both fighters, told BoxingScene.com.
The 32-year-old Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) saw his lightweight title reign end on Oct. 17 when he lost a unanimous decision – 119-109, 117-111 and 116-112 -- to underdog Teofimo Lopez Jr. (16-0, 12 KOs) in their highly anticipated unification fight at the conference center of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
After the fight Klimas revealed that Lomachenko had gone into the bout with an injured right shoulder he hurt in training camp that ultimately needed two injections to reduce the pain, including one three weeks before the fight. Lomachenko, a southpaw, had previously suffered a torn labrum in the same shoulder during his 10th-round knockout victory over Jorge Linares to win his first lightweight belt in May 2018, after which he had surgery.
A few days after losing to Lopez, Lomachenko had another shoulder operation in Los Angeles and has since returned home to Ukraine.
“Loma is recovering well,” Klimas said in an interview with BoxingScene. “He’s already running and has started training little by little. So, he is good. He wants to get back in the ring as soon as possible. The doctor told him he can start full training, even with his shoulder, doing pushups and pull-ups, by the end of January.”
Lomachenko in a recent interview he posted on social media said that he has watched a video of the fight with Lopez, believes he won, claimed the judges were biased against him and that “it’s about being bribed. There was nothing honest about the judging.” There is no evidence of anything untoward in the scoring of the fight.
Lomachenko hoped to land an immediate rematch with Lopez but that appears to be unlikely. Lopez’s team is engaged in serious discussions for him to face mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. this spring in Kambosos’ home country of Australia.
The contract for Lomachenko-Lopez did not contain a rematch clause, so Klimas said they know they cannot force the issue.
“What can we do? We can’t force them into a rematch if they don’t want to have one and the reason they don’t want that rematch is because they don’t want to lose,” Klimas said.
What Lomachenko will do next remains unsettled, although Klimas said they are hoping to work out a fight with Top Rank that will have him back in action in April or May.
Klimas said Lomachenko could move back to the 130-pound junior lightweight division, where he previously held a world title, or remain in the 135-pound lightweight division. Klimas said Lomachenko is open to boxing either weight class.
“Maybe he goes back to 130. It depends,” Klimas said. “If we can get a good fight at 135 pounds Loma would like to stay at 135. If there is no good fight at 135 then we will move to 130. At 130 and 135 there are big names and good fights, so there are very good possibilities.”
Lomachenko is promoted by Top Rank and besides also promoting Lopez at lightweight the company also promotes several notable fighters in the junior lightweight division who eventually could fight Lomachenko, including the winner of the Feb. 20 fight between world titleholder Miguel Berchelt and mandatory challenger and unbeaten former featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez, the winner of the fight between titlist Jamel Herring and former two-division titlist Carl Frampton – no official date set yet -- and top contender Shakur Stevenson, the former featherweight titlist, who is due to face the Herring-Frampton winner in the spring.
As for Besputin (13-0, 9 KOs), 29, of Russia, he has not boxed since Nov. 30, 2019 in Monte Carlo, where he won a unanimous decision – 116-112 on all three scorecards – against Radzhab Butaev to claim the WBA’s vacant secondary welterweight world title.
However, Besputin tested positive for the banned substance Ligandrol in his A and B samples, was stripped of the belt and the decision was overturned to a no contest. He was also suspended for six months by the WBA.
Klimas said Besputin is scheduled to make his ring return on Jan. 30 in Moscow on the undercard of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card headlined by unified light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev’s defense against Adam Deines
“Besputin is going to be in the co-main event on the Beterbiev card,” Klimas said. “He’s been in Russia, he is training and he is excited to fight again.”
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.