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Lomachenko shoulder injury unfairly takes shine off Lopez win

Vasiliy Lomachenko
George Gigney explores the fallout after Vasiliy Lomachenko's loss to Teofimo Lopez

THE fallout from Teofimo Lopez’ stunning win over Vasiliy Lomachenko continues as it emerges the Ukrainian star seriously injured his shoulder prior to and then again during the fight.

Yahoo Sports revealed that Lomachenko underwent surgery on his right shoulder two days after his loss to Lopez, with surgeon Dr Neal ElAttrache confirming the news, while stating ‘Loma’ should be able to resume training and fighting again in January.

However, ElAttrache was first contacted by Lomachenko’s team about six weeks out from the fight, when Vasiliy arrived in the US and was experiencing significant pain in his shoulder.

In a subsequent ESPN report, Lomachenko’s manager, Egis Klimas, revealed that his charge received injections for the pain, sidelining him from training for a week. These were all reported to VADA and the Nevada State Athletic Commission though, strangely, Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum claimed he’d heard absolutely nothing of the injury, not even when he visited Lomachenko in camp.

When Lomachenko required another injection a few weeks’ later, Klimas claims Vasiliy’s father, Anatoly, wanted them to pull out of the fight. Apparently, Lomachenko threatened to retire if he withdrew from the Lopez bout.

Videos and images of Lomachenko post-surgery have since emerged, proving the injury was legitimate. What’s concerning is that the former lightweight king still went ahead with the fight – one in which he did not have a rematch clause.

On the one hand, it’s admirable that he was willing to take on such a tough task with a fairly serious injury, but on the other it’s also irresponsible, especially from someone of his standing.

Klimas was eager to stress that these are not “excuses” for the loss and that they’re very much pushing for a rematch; something Lopez is not contractually required to grant.

Teofimo Lopez vs Vasiliy Lomachenko

Speaking on the matter to ESPN’s Max Kellerman, Lopez said he sees no point in an immediate rematch and that Lomachenko’s admission of injury only serves to damage his own reputation. To an extent he has a point, Lopez – who is unlikely to have been 100 per cent fit himself – was a deserved winner. However, at this stage, there’s no bigger fight out there for him other than the rematch. Given how Lomachenko came on strong in the second half of the fight, I’d be very interested in seeing a rematch between the two, once the former champ is back to full fitness.

After appearing before British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) stewards to “discuss his performance” as a judge for Lewis Ritson’s recent win over Miguel Vazquez, Terry O’Connor was cleared of allegations he had been using his phone during the bout.

After he turned in a ludicrous 117-111 card for Ritson, images and footage of O’Connor frequently checking something in his hand during the bout appeared on social media, with many claiming it was a phone.

The Board have since ruled that they’re confident it wasn’t a phone and that “Mr O’Connor’s final score reflected his own opinion of the contest.”

There are many who have now accused the Board of simply protecting one of their own – a baseless claim – though we should engage with O’Connor’s “opinion of the contest.” It seemed clear to the vast majority who had seen the fight that Ritson did not do enough to win, yet this card had him winning by six rounds. Further explanation on how this came to happen – from a 500-fight veteran judge – is required.

It’s now been confirmed that Tyson Fury will defend his WBC heavyweight title against an as-yet unnamed opponent in the UK on December 5. Speaking to BoxingScene, Arum – who co-promotes Fury alongside Frank Warren – said they’ve whittled the list of potential opponents down to two; Egit Kabayel and Carlos Takam.

Out of context, these options would be worrying at best; neither man has done anything to warrant a crack at the division leader. However, there are factors to consider. Options will be limited because of Covid-19. We’re also being told there are serious plans to match Fury with Anthony Joshua next year, and there’s no need to risk that fight.

My guestimate is that it’ll be Kabayel trundling out of the opposite corner on December 5; his unbeaten record is an easier sell, he’s likely a little cheaper and holds a win over Dereck Chisora, who knocked out Takam. Whoever it is of the two, it’s going to be interesting to see what the reaction is should it end up on pay-per-view.

However, on the undercard it looks like we’re getting Michael Conlan against former world champion Isaac Dogboe, according to ESPN. That’s a really interesting fight, though Conlan’s significant size advantages will prove more than troublesome for Dogboe.

One thing that has struck me recently is the lack of excitement around this weekend’s clash between Leo Santa Cruz and Gervonta Davis. It’s an excellent fight and tops a Showtime PPV card in the States, but there has not been much hype in recent weeks.

We did recently see a big fight in Lomachenko-Lopez and last weekend the UFC staged one of their biggest fights of 2020, both of which seemed to have overshadowed this weekend’s clash.

Not even Floyd Mayweather, who manages Davis, stepping out in front of the media has helped upped the ante. Indeed, it was Mayweather’s comments about the scourge of world title belts in boxing that made headlines recently, not anything he said about his charge.

“This is not good for the sport of boxing,” he said in an interview with Showtime. “Now when a fighter fights, every fighter is a champion. Ain’t no such thing as super champion. You guys [the sanctioning bodies] are just taking extra money from all these fighters [by] getting extra money from sanctioning fees.”

It’ll come as no surprise that I’m in full agreement – the problem is what we actually do about the situation.

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