Lomachenko can clinch historic feat in Martinez meeting at Madison Square Garden
Lee Gormley | May 29, 2016
Quick-fire success for Ukraine amateur great
With Olympic Gold medals earned in both 2008 and 2012, as well as further success at the 2007, 2009 and 2011 World Championships, Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko took to the professional ranks back in October 2013 after becoming arguably the greatest amateur fighter in history.
The decorated 28-year-old signed with Bob Arum’s Top Rank upon leaving the amateurs and immediately outlined his ambitions of dominating the featherweight division, audaciously desiring a world title fight on his professional debut.
Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) saw his request expectedly denied by his experienced promoter, with Arum admitting it was impossible to organise, but instead was granted a 10-round bout against solid Mexican opponent Jose Ramirez, in which he stormed to a swift stoppage victory.
Following his burst onto the scene, the classy southpaw did contest for a world title in only his second appearance, but lost a split decision to Orlando Salido, though he eventually reigned supreme in his third outing when schooling American Gary Russell Jr to claim the vacant WBO featherweight strap.
The slick Ukrainian has since defended the belt on three occasions, overcoming all of Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Gamalier Rodriguez and Romulo Koasicha, and on June 12th he will attempt to write himself into the boxing history books, when he is odds-on 1/12 with Coral to topple Puerto Rican Roman Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs).
Lomachenko has boxing history in sights
In June 2014, with his emphatic points success over Russell Jr, Lomachenko drew level with a 39-year-old record as he became the joint-fastest fighter to become world champion in only his third bout, equalling Thailand’s Saensak Muangsurin’s long-standing feat when he won the light-welterweight belt in 1975.
Next up in June, the Ukraine star will look to make history, with success against Martinez set to see him win a world title in a second weight class in only his seventh pro fight, which would break the record set by Japan’s Naoya Inoue, who clinched the light-flyweight strap in his sixth bout in April 2014 then the light-bantamweight belt eight months later.
In 33-year-old Martinez, Lomachenko faces a three-time champion making the second defence of his current WBO super-featherweight crown, and ‘Rocky’ will take to the ring this summer at 13/2 to spring a surprise and end his opponent’s attempts of claiming a historic win.
Lomachenko has suffered the same fate as many other top fighters in recent years when being heavily avoided in his division, and his frustration forced him to move up to super-featherweight to face former 126-pounds champion Nicholas Walters in a non-title bout. Though the match-up fell through because of his supposed opponent’s financial demands, despite the Ukrainian offering $300k of his own purse if unsuccessful.
“I will fight only the best…”
The talented southpaw is no stranger to fighting on the biggest stages in the sport, having downed Puerto Rican Rodriguez on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s comfortable success over Manny Pacquiao last year, and he is seeking only the best to face-off with.
“I am at a level only to fight the best fighters in the world,” declared Lomachenko. “No one really wanted to fight me at 126, so we made a decision to go to 130 and fight Rocky Martinez.
“A lot of fighters say they want to fight the best in the world. The difference is that I mean it. I will fight only the best.”
Lomachenko’s latest outing will be the headline act at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York in June and, despite not initially knowing he was on the cusp of history, the Ukrainian slickster is now aiming to land a new milestone in his short but sweet career.
“It is a big opportunity for me,” Lomachenko added. “It is a chance to set a new record by becoming a two-division world champion in the shortest period, my seventh professional fight, a record that currently stands at eight fights.
“On June 11, at Madison Square Garden, I’m going to do my best to reach a new career pinnacle.”
With Lomachenko desiring only the best fighters to do battle with, it makes his promoter Arum’s job in delivering those opponents a tough one, but a historic triumph in New York this June would see the highly-driven Ukrainian star’s reputation grow further as he looks to become one of the sport’s greats.