Former three-weight world champion “Hi-Tech” Vasiliy Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KO’s) and undefeated contender Jamaine Ortiz (16-0-1, 8 KO’s) will engage in battle of great importance in lightweight division this weekend. The one-time sparring partners will clash in the 12-round lightweight main event Saturday evening at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The winner of this bout more than likely to get a shot at undisputed lightweight champion Devin “The Dream” Haney or possibly two-division undefeated champion Shakur Stevenson.
It’s mentioned in the video above, Lomachenko avoided facing unified champion at the time George Kambosos Jr., due to conflict in his country with the war.
It should also be noted that Lomachenko avoided facing his WBC mandatory, who ended up eventually becoming undisputed in that very same division. That fighter is now the one being chased – Devin Haney.
Lomachenko returns to the ring this weekend after serving a stint in a territorial defense battalion in his native Ukraine, while Ortiz scored his career-best victory over former world champion Jamel Herring in May.
At their final press conference, this is what the fighters had to say:
“I feel great. I feel good. I can’t wait to come back Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. I think it’s a special place for me. I’ve had a lot of fights there. So, it’s a lucky place for me.”
“For me, it was an easy decision [to not take the George Kambosos Jr. fight] because there was a war in my country. There was a war in my hometown. I needed to stay with my family and with our people and defend our country. You don’t think about boxing. You don’t think about your future. You just think about saving your life and saving your family. That’s it.”
“I just wanted to bring a bit of sports attention to our country. And Saturday, which is Sunday morning in Ukraine, I want the people to change their mind towards good emotions.”
“Sparring [against Ortiz] is different from competition because our conditioning is not at 100 percent, so Saturday night will be a very interesting fight. I’m focused on my job. I’m focused on my boxing. You can’t stop thinking about your country. It’s always on your mind. But now I’m focused, and I need to be focused because I’m an athlete. After the fight, I’ll go back to Ukraine and support my country.”
“This fight means everything to me. This is something I’ve manifested into my life, eventually fighting Lomachenko. And the time has come here at the ‘Mecca of Boxing,’ Madison Square Garden. God has delivered everything I’ve asked for.”
“I learned a lot of things about myself in the Jamel Herring fight, as I do in every fight. I try to make improvements. I go back to the basics and fundamentals and try to master those skills. Saturday night you’re going to see the best Jamaine Ortiz.”
“I think the opponent in front of you brings out the type of fighter you are. I think Lomachenko is going to bring out the best Jamaine Ortiz. The fighter that everybody around me knows. You’re going to see the real ‘Technician’ on Saturday night.”
Far as how the fight turns out, I wouldn’t expect too much rust from Lomachenko, as his last fight was in December of last year against former lightweight champion, Richard Commey.
Ortiz and Lomachenko are former sparring partners and albeit an actual fight is much different from sparring, the more experienced Lomachenko should be able to use those sessions to his advantage in this bout.
This bout is built as a bridge to pit the biggest stars on the Top Rank end in the division against one another, with Lomachenko vs. Haney or potentially vs. Stevenson (depending on if Haney decides to move up), but Ortiz aims to play spoiler yet again, just as he did against Herring.
Should be an interesting night in New York city.