Unified world lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko is prepared to contest one of boxing’s biggest fights behind closed doors to ensure coronavirus does not rob him of a “dream” chance.
Lomachenko will defend his WBA, WBO belts and his WBC franchise title against IBF champion Teofimo Lopez.
The bout on 17 October is the biggest since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Asked why hold it now without fans, Lomachenko told BBC Sport: “Because nobody knows when this finishes.”
The 32-year-old Ukrainian added: “Because it is close to my goal, my dream. That’s why I want to take this.”
‘He talked too much’
Fans have demanded Lomachenko take on 23-year-old American Lopez and promoter Bob Arum will stage the fight in a Covid-19 secure ‘bubble’ in Las Vegas.
Lomachenko – a two-time Olympic champion as an amateur – turned down the chance of a warm-up bout despite the fact he will have been out of the ring for 14 months by fight night.
Lopez, who has 15 wins from 15 bouts, with 12 knockouts, has said he will “beat up” a fighter many regard as being the world’s finest in any weight category.
Asked if Lopez is ready for the step up in class, Lomachenko replied: “I don’t now. I think he must be because he talked too much.
“He is a good fighter, a big puncher with speed and power. I know just one thing, if you say something you need to prove it in the ring, that’s it. We will see what he has to say after the fight.”
Lopez brings his IBF world title into the fight, while Lomachenko holds two world titles as well as “franchise champion” status with the WBC.
The new title involved the WBC choosing to elevate Lomachenko’s status while handing the WBC belt he had actually held to American Devin Haney.
Fans have been left confused by the introduction of a title the WBC chooses to promote a fighter to in order to provide a “special status”.
The WBC has said that were Lopez to beat Lomachenko, he would become franchise champion. As a result, the fight will see honours from all four sanctioning bodies up for grabs.
Having won world titles in three weight divisions in just 15 fights as a professional, Lomachenko appears to be running out of records to chase.
While he admits his “fantasy fight” against the retired Floyd Mayweather could never happen, he says young, exciting names in his division such as Haney and Ryan Garcia offer him enough motivation to keep going.
“I don’t like to lose,” he added. “This is my motivation. In my blood is only winning.
“You know what I feel. When you stay in the top you have a very big competition. Everybody is after you and it’s good for the sport. Then you fight other top fighters, it’s good for boxing history.
“In this fight, he is a world champion, he’s young and we will unify all the titles. I think it’s a fight that will go down in history.”
Source: BBC Sport