Sunday, 22 June 2014 19:20

Lomachenko: Boxer on the rise has many options

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Last night in a 'technical' slugfest, Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1 1 KO) dominated Gary Russell Jr (24-1 14 KOs) over twelve rounds to set a record by winning a major world title with the fewest professional fights (3).

(Image courtesy of HBO)

Lomachenko, now the WBO featherweight titlist, had a measure of redemption with this win. Earlier this year, Lomachenko fell short in his first attempt at a world title, losing a tight decision to rugged veteran Orlando Salido in what was just his second pro bout.

However, a day prior to that fight, Salido lost the belt on the scales by coming in over the featherweight limit.

Despite the loss, Lomachenko was impressive and competed well the entire bout. As a matter of fact, it was Vasyl's stellar performance which set-up Lomachenko vs Russell Jr for Salido's vacated crown.

After his best performance to date in just his third professional bout, where does the newly crowned-champion go from here?

Lomachenko and his team may look to take care of unfinished business and face Salido in a rematch. This bout is compelling for a few different reasons.

Lomachenko vs Salido 2 may be a different affair as many surmise much of Salido's success in the first bout was due to his significant weight advantage that evening. With Lomachenko now possessing the belt, he may have more bargaining chips and could force Salido to come in at a more reasonable weight should the Mexican wants any part of Vasyl again. A rematch would intrigue and may have an entirely different outcome.

There are a number of other appealling match-ups for Lomachenko, inside and outside the featherweight division.

However, the Ukrainian may look to conquer the featherweight division first by facing the likes of Jhonny Gonzalez, Abner Mares, Nonito Donaire, Evgeny Gradovich or Nicholas Walters, or a combination thereof.

The last three fighters mentioned above, including Salido, could be easily matched against Lomachenko given they are promoted under the Top Rank banner, Vasyl's promotional group.

Outside the division, there's also the potential for some blockbuster fights. In a battle of Olympic, legends Lomachenko could take on top 10 pound-for-pound pugilist and Jr. featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux as the latter is promoted by Top Rank as well.

And north of featherweight sits emerging star and WBO Jr. lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia. HBO has taken a great liking to Garcia. Will they risk it all on potentially-huge Garcia vs Lomachenko showdown?

There are a lot of big match-ups in and around the featherweight division and the Ukrainian is right there in the mix.

Who's next for WBO featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko?

Featherweight Top 10 (as of 6/22/14)
1. Jhonny Gonzalez
2. Aber Mares
3. Nonito Donaire
4. Evgeny Gradovich
5. Nicholas Walters
6. Simpiwe Vetyeka
7. Orlando Salido
8. Vasyl Lomachenko
9. Billy Dib
10. Ronny Rios

1. Jhonny Gonzalez
2. Aber Mares
3.Nicholas Walters
4 Nonito Donaire
5. Evgeny Gradovich
6. Simpiwe Vetyeka
7. Billy Dib
8. Ronny Rios
9. Lee Selby
10. Vasyl Lomachenko