TWO-division world champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford return to the ring in August, headlining separate world championship events on ESPN. Lomachenko will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against two-time world title challenger and top-10 contender Miguel Marriago Saturday, August 5, at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Two weeks later, Crawford, the 2014 Fighter of the Year, will risk his WBO world titles against IBF and WBA world champion Julius Indongo in a battle of undefeated 140-pound world champions. Crawford vs. Indongo will take place Saturday, August 19, at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Both events will be televised live and exclusively at 10 p.m. EDT on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and stream live on the ESPN app.
“ESPN is thrilled to bring these two new title fights to fans,” said ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling Burke Magnus. “There is a lot of buzz around boxing right now and much of it centers around these two great champions – Lomachenko and Crawford. We are excited and proud to showcase these two great events on our all our platforms.”
“Pound for pound, no one can match the talent of Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank. “They drew the best ratings on premium cable this year, and now everyone will be able to see them when they defend their world titles in all-action fights in August, live on ESPN.”
Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs), of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine, will be making his second world title defense of 2017. On April 8, he stopped former WBA super featherweight world champion Jason “El Canito” Sosa in the ninth round. It was the second most viewed fight on premium cable for 2017. Last year saw Lomachenko named “Fighter of the Year” by several media outlets. The greatest amateur boxer of his era and arguably of all time, two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko, started 2016 by becoming a two-division world champion just as he did with his first professional world title — winning world title No. 2 in a record least amount of fights — SEVEN! On June 11, 2016, he annihilated defending three-time WBO junior lightweight champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez via a one-punch knockout in the fifth round. He followed that with his first defense of the WBO junior lightweight title, on Nov. 26, totally dominating Nicholas Walters. The previously undefeated former WBA featherweight world champion quit on his stool after the seventh round with his trainer and father Jobs Walters, telling referee Tony Weeks, ‘”No mas.” Not only was it a total domination but a boxing masterpiece painted on the canvas by Lomachenko. Lomachenko captured his first world title — the vacant WBO featherweight title — on June 21, 2014, winning a scintillating majority decision over the previously unbeaten Gary Russell Jr. It was Lomachenko’s third professional bout, tying him with Thailand’s Saensak Muangsurin for fewest fights to win a world title. Muangsurin won a junior welterweight title in 1975, also in his third professional fight. Lomachenko first gained international renown by winning gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Games as a featherweight and a lightweight, respectively. He retired from the amateurs with a 396-1 record.
Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs), from Arjona, Colombia, enters this fight having won 15 of his previous 20 fights by way of knockout. The only blemishes on his record, 12-round unanimous decision world title losses to WBO featherweight champion Óscar Valdez in a ferocious battle on April 22, and former WBA featherweight world champion Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters in 2015. Between those two world championship battles, Marriaga fashioned a five-bout winning streak, which included NABO featherweight title knockout victories against Guy Robb and Eduardo Montoya in 2016 to become the WBO’s No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger to Valdez.
Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs), of Omaha, Neb., is a two-division world champion who has won six of his last eight bouts by stoppage. In his 2017 debut which took place on May 20 at Madison Square Garden, Crawford successfully defended his titles via a 10th-round stoppage of former Olympic gold medalist and top-rated contender Félix Díaz. It is premium cable’s most-watched fight for 2017. Crawford unified the 140-pound titles in a battle between consensus Top-10 pound-for-pound fighters on July 23, 2016, successfully defending his WBO junior welterweight title for the third time by winning a unanimous decision over previously undefeated WBC super lightweight champion Viktor Postol. That victory also garnered him The Ring title, designating him the lineal champion. He made his first defense of his unified titles on December 10, 2016, stopping No. 1 contender and one-time world title challenger John Molina Jr. in front of a record crowd at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. The consensus Top-Five pound-for-pound fighter will be looking to keep building on his star-making 2014 which featured three world championship victories as well as Fighter of the Year honors from the Boxing Writers Association of America and major media alike. Crawford, 29, captured the vacant WBO junior welterweight crown on April 18, 2015, via a devastating sixth-round knockout of once-beaten No. 2 world-rated contender Thomas Dulorme. His title defenses include stopping No. 2 world-rated contender Dierry Jean in front of a packed house at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha on October 24, 2015, knocking out Top-10 contender Hank Lundy in the fifth round on February 27, 2016, at a sold-out Theater at Madison Square Garden, and headlining his first pay-per-view on July 23, where he totally dominated Postol. Crawford began his career-best year on March 1, 2014, just 13 days short of the sixth anniversary of his professional debut. He captured his first world title, the WBO lightweight title, dethroning defending champion Ricky Burns on Burns’ home turf of Glasgow, Scotland. Scoring a powerful and unanimous decision, Crawford put the boxing world on notice with his virtuoso performance as he pulled out all stops in dismantling Burns, rocking the defending champion throughout the fight, while switching back and forth between orthodox and southpaw stances. He followed that with a dramatic and critically-acclaimed knockout victory of undefeated former world champion and Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa on June 28, 2014, in a Fight of the Year nominee. It was one of the most-watched fights of the year with over 1.2 million viewers catching the live, first-time airing of the fight, according to Nielsen Media Research. He concluded 2014 on November 29 with a thorough shellacking of one-time world title challenger and No. 1 contender Ray Beltran, winning 11 of the 12 rounds. Crawford, who is friendly with Warren Buffet, is only the second Nebraska native to be recognized as a boxing world champion. Perry “Kid” Graves, from Rock Bluff, captured the welterweight crown, knocking out Johnny Alberts in Brooklyn, in 1914, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Indongo (22-0, 11 KOs), from Windhoek, Nambia, has become a unified world champion in true road warrior fashion. He captured the IBF junior welterweight title on December 3, 2016, knocking out defending champion Eduard Troyanovsky. In his next fight, on April 15, he unified the titles by shellacking defending WBA world champion Ricky Burns via a dominant unanimous decision. Both victories took place in Russia and Scotland, the home countries of Troyanovsky and Burns, respectively.