Olympic boxing star Lomachenko weighs pro career
BEVERLY HILLS, California (AP) — Vasyl Lomachenko is meeting with several top boxing promoters while the two-time Olympic gold medalist considers launching a professional career, his adviser told The Associated Press.
Egis Klimas said Lomachenko is meeting with promotional companies Top Rank, Golden Boy and Main Events. The Ukrainian lightweight star likely will decide whether to turn pro in North America within the next week, Klimas said.
“I want to fight the best in the world,” Lomachenko said through a translator Thursday.
The 25-year-old Lomachenko is among the greatest amateur boxers of his generation after winning gold medals in Beijing and London, also claiming two world championships in between. Lomachenko, who competed at 132 pounds in London, fights with an aggressive, athletic style that should make him a popular professional, as evidenced by the attention he’s getting from the world’s top promoters.
“He wants to become a pound-for-pound champion,” Klimas said. “He doesn’t want to be on a long track. He wants to fight for a title soon. If we could get a champion today, we would like to fight the champion today. He wants to make something special.”
Oleksandr Usyk, who won the heavyweight Olympic gold for Ukraine last year, is traveling with Lomachenko while contemplating his own pro career as a cruiserweight. Lomachenko and Usyk, who joined Wladimir Klitschko as the only gold medalists in Ukraine’s Olympic boxing history, likely would train in the same gym, Klimas said.
Klimas also claimed Lomachenko isn’t under any contractual obligation to the International Boxing Association (AIBA), the governing body over amateur boxing.
Lomachenko fought for the Ukraine team in AIBA’s World Series of Boxing last season, and he signed a deal during the London Olympics with AIBA Professional Boxing (APB), AIBA’s latest venture in its ambition to control every level of the sport. APB will begin competition later this year.
“He is out of any conflicts, any obligations, and that’s why he’s in the States, looking around,” Klimas said. “He and Oleksandr are completely free.”
An AIBA spokesman in Switzerland didn’t return a request for clarification of Lomachenko’s contract status with AIBA.
Klimas, who manages Russian fighters Evgeny Gradovich and Sergey Kovalev, is traveling with Lomachenko and his father, Anatoly. Klimas said Lomachenko intends to work with a professional trainer alongside his father, who trained him on the way to the Olympics.
Top Rank already matched two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming with Hollywood-based trainer Freddie Roach, who is guiding the Chinese amateur star through his first pro fights this year.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum courted Lomachenko after a news conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday, discussing housing and training conditions if Lomachenko signs with Top Rank and moves to Las Vegas or Los Angeles.
“He’s the best amateur in the history of the sport,” Arum said.
Lomachenko and Usyk attended the glitzy news conference promoting Juan Manuel Marquez’s upcoming welterweight title bout with unbeaten Timothy Bradley. While Lomachenko sat back with his friends and father, Usyk, who gained fame in London for his distinctive chub haircut and celebratory Cossack dances after victories, took photos of the interview sessions with a tablet computer before Arum approached the Ukrainian group for a discussion.
“We had very good conversations,” Klimas said of Lomachenko’s last few days. “So far we’re talking, and the second thing we want to see is something in writing. We’re not trying to make some kind of an auction here.”