Boxing, News, Sports

Is it The Matrix Reloaded?

By: Kirk Jackson

This isn’t a glitch in the matrix.

Top Rank sent out a press release announcing the return of former three division champion, Vasiliy Lomachenko, scheduled to return later this year.

Footage courtesy of Top Rank Boxing.

The three-weight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KO’s), who spent several months serving with the Belgorod-Dnestrovsky Territorial Defense Battalion in his native Ukraine, is ready to resume his boxing career and will return to the ring later this year against a to-be-determined opponent.

“I pray every day for Ukraine, for the people…. and stop the war. When I came back to Ukraine, I believe it was the second day of war. Your mind changes because you see a different life. It’s a different life. Nobody knows what happened on this day. It’s very bad. It’s very bad for the world,” Lomachenko said. “I’ve prepared for this moment, and I need this chance. I need this fight… undisputed. Undisputed world champion.”

He touched down in Los Angeles earlier this week and will begin training camp at his Southern California residence with intentions of regaining a stronghold in the lightweight division.

Scope of Analysis

What does this mean?

A former featherweight, junior lightweight and unified lightweight champion, Lomachenko regained momentum in 2021 with dominant victories over Masayoshi Nakatani (19-2, 13 KO’s) and former IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey (30-4, 27 KO’s).

In the months’ time since his defeat at the hands of Teofimo Lopez (17-1, 13 KO’s), and triumphant return beating Commey, 23-year-old prodigy Devin “The Dream” Haney (28-0, 15 KO’s) unified the division to become undisputed, dethroning the unified champion who fell just short of claiming that status for himself, George Kambosos Jr. (20-1, 10 KO’s).

Vasiliy Lomachenko raising his arm in victory.

The return of Lomachenko means the lightweight division became more interesting. Even with the departures of Lopez and Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KO’s), the division is loaded with talent, featuring Haney who reigns at the top.

The biggest attraction in the division and arguably of the sport, Gervonta “Tank” Davis (27-0, 25 KO’s) has territory in the division as well.

Other notable fighters include Frank Martin, Michele Rivera, Isaac Cruz, Rolando Romero and Joseph “JoJo” Diaz.

Viable options?

Even though as discussed, this is a stacked division, loaded with talent, a lot of the talent at the top isn’t aligned with Top Rank. Meaning, some of these fights could be difficult to make.

Top Rank has young talent like Keyshawn Davis (5-0, 4 KO’s), Raymond Muratalla (15-0, 13 KO’s), Abdullah Mason (3-0, 3 KO’s) and a few others, but they require more seasoning as their young into their respective careers.

Potentially, Top Rank may have their current WBC and WBO super featherweight Shakur Stevenson (18-0, 9 KO’s) move up to lightweight, but that would likely be down the line and the dynamics of the division may be different at that time.

End goal?

Without a clear opponent in immediate sight, it sounds like Lomachenko may have a soft touch upon his return and will aim to continue his current streak of momentum.

Which may come across as odd to some, as other great fighters by comparison, jump back right into the mix after a layoff or time away from the sport. Recent examples would be Errol “The Truth” Spence (28-0, 22 KO’s) or even Oleksandr “The Cat” Usyk (19-0, 13 KO’s).

Every fighter is different and there can be a multitude of variables dictating fight options.

Ultimately upon Lomachenko’s return, the end goal should be a fight with Haney – which is a fight the current undisputed lightweight champion has always wanted anyway.

To add context, that war of words between Lomachenko and Haney stems from the young American fighter, wanting to face who was then at the time, unified with three of the four lightweight world titles Lomachenko.

Haney reminded Lomachenko that he was the mandatory challenger for the WBC belt that Lomachenko held, but Lomachenko requested to be the “Franchise” champion, which was granted – meaning Lomachenko no longer had to fulfill the title defense.

So, there is a little bit of history between the two, suspense, intrigue and both fighters are under the same network.

Which means, there little disagreement can be settled in a way for which many of us of would prefer. They settle it by doing what they do best. Settling things in the ring in what should be a compelling, competitive boxing match.

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