This Saturday night from the Stub Hub Center in Carson, CA, near Los Angeles and live on Showtime a special fight. In one of the three scheduled for broadcast bouts undefeated featherweight Gary Russell Jr will face off against former amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko for the vacant WBO 126-pound title. Lomachenko from Russia is in his second title fight in a row despite walking in to the ring with a professional record of one win against one loss and the win by way of knockout.
What is so special about the fight?
Besides the record of the twenty-six year old Lomachenko and the fact that he is in his in back-to-back title fights despite losing his first effort against Omar Salado in his last fight, the fight will also mark the first time since the Vanes Martirosyan-Erislandy Lara draw back in late 2011 in Las Vegas that Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank work on a fight together.
After the aforementioned Salido did not make weight for their title fight back in March, the title was only available for Lomachenko who was considered the favorite against the rugged Mexican. Salido proved them wrong as he proved that despite a record with more than ten losses, he learned plenty fighting for more than half of his life and proved that Lomachenko was not ready for the world state, at least not with a belt around his waist.
So how did Lomachenko get another shot?
Blame the World Boxing Organization, better known as the WBO, who felt that he deserved another opportunity at the title since many believed Salido’s failure to make weight was too much of an advantage. Or maybe the WBO felt that Top Rank needed another chance to control the belt since they maneuvered it while Salido held it.
The road for southpaw Russell Jr of Washinton D.C. has been much longer. The Al Haymon advised fighter turned pro in 2009 and has steadily climbed the ranks on the strength of his quick hands although brittle which at times have kept him out of the ring. Surprisingly, many believe that despite Russell Jr carrying a pro record of 24 wins against no defeats and fourteen inside the distance, Lomachenko is the one with the more experience. Lomachenko as an amateur captured every major title available including two gold medals in the Olympics in ’08 & ’12. Russell Jr’s record is not as impressive as he has not beaten anybody remotely on the boxing radar.
Is Russell Jr, a respected amateur in his own right, ready for Lomachenko? Is Lomachenko fighting in his second title fight in a row a classic case of too much too soon?
Tune in to Showtime on Saturday night and find out.
In the main event of the night Robert Guerrero comes back from a year-long hiatus to take on tough Japanese Yoshihiro Kamegai and Devon Alexander gets a second shot at a career against long in the tooth Mexican Jesus Soto-Karass in the Golden Boy Promotions presented night.