BOB ARUM knows brilliance when he sees it. The veteran promoter has worked with some of the greatest fighters in history, but his enthusiasm for Ukrainian star Vasyl Lomachenko is unmistakeable. “Lomachenko is the greatest technical fighter that I’ve seen since Ali. Not the [Muhammad] Ali after not fighting for three and a half years, because the draft, but the Ali that came over with me after the [George] Chuvalo fight, when he fought Henry Cooper for the second time at Arsenal and a month later he fought Brian London in Earls Court, then [Karl] Mildenberger in Frankfurt, all in the course of one summer. That Ali was the most technical fighter I’d seen. Until Lomachenko came around there was no fighter that was in any way his equal,” Arum told Boxing News.
Lomachenko is carving out his own path out to greatness. On Saturday (August 31) he takes on Luke Campbell for the WBA and WBO lightweight world titles as well as the vacant WBC belt. If Lomachenko is victorious he’ll be one step away from becoming undisputed. Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez are due to fight for the IBF’s 135lb belt at Madison Square Garden in New York on December 14. The winner of that clash is a natural opponent for Lomachenko in 2020. If Lomachenko then unifies the division, you might think he’d be running out of challenges. However his promoter Arum can see a further super-fight down the line. He revealed that if Japanese star Naoya Inoue defeats Nonito Donaire in the final of the World Boxing Super Series he will work with Top Rank and take aim at Lomachenko, back down at 126lbs.
“There’s a Japanese kid who is becoming a sensation. He’s 118lbs and he knocks everybody out. I met him in Japan and he’s fighting Nonito Donaire in that tournament and assuming he beats Donaire we’re going to put him in fights. His goal and ambition is to fight Lomachenko at maybe 126lbs. That would be a massive fight,” Arum told Boxing News.
“Loma and his father are really students of the sport and maybe they’ll think up other challenges for Loma [after becoming undisputed]. One step at a time. That has been their goal since they turned lightweight, having won featherweight and junior-lightweight championships. One thing I’m pretty sure of is 135lbs is Loma’s maximum weight. He’s not a big guy. He could fight featherweight tomorrow.”
To realise that vision, Lomachenko can’t afford to overlook Campbell. Arum is expecting to see a masterclass in the O2 in London on Saturday. “Now Lomachenko is not only great as a defensive specialist, the way he measures distance, the way he angles his body. He’s like a ballet dancer in the ring. All of it has a method, not just defence. He’s always looking to unlock the other guys tools so he can then destroy the other guy or make him quit,” Arum said.
“Unlike Floyd Mayweather who’s a great, great defensive fighter. I mean a really great defensive fighter. But Floyd was content to win a fight by defence. He was never looking to destroy his opponent. Just hit him enough to win the points and to win the rounds. Lomachenko – watch him, you will see an unbelievable defensive specialist always looking, figuring out how he’s going to destroy his opponent.”