NEW YORK – Vasiliy Lomachenko still would welcome a rematch with Teofimo Lopez.
The catch, unfortunately for boxing fans who want to see them fight again, is that Lomachenko would only consider it if their second fight also is contested at the lightweight limit of 135 pounds. Lopez almost certainly will move up to the junior welterweight division, and perhaps slightly above its 140-pound maximum, for his first fight of 2022.
Lomachenko clarified, too, that while he is interested in opposing Lopez a second time, his primary goal is to become boxing’s fully unified lightweight champion. The Ukrainian southpaw’s clearest path toward accomplishing that feat is to challenge Australia’s George Kambosos Jr., who upset Lopez by split decision in their 12-rounder November 27 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
Assuming Lomachenko and Kambosos keep winning, Kambosos probably wouldn’t defend his IBF, WBA “super,” WBC “franchise” and WBO 135-pound championships against Lomachenko until the three-division champion is installed as the mandatory challenger for the WBC and/or WBO belts. The 33-year-old Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs) is ranked number one among the WBC and WBO lightweight contenders, but he’ll have to defeat former IBF champ Richard Commey (30-3, 27 KOs) on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
“First of all, I continue my career for four belts,” Lomachenko told a group of reporters Thursday following a press conference to promote his fight with Commey. “But if we have a chance to organize this fight again [with Lopez], I’ll be happy, but only [at] 135 pounds. I can’t go [to] 140 for this fight with Lopez because it’s not [fair]. I’m a fighter [of] smaller sizes. I can’t go [to] 140 because he can’t make weight, 135. If he can go down [to] 135, make weight, we can make it.”
A respectful Lomachenko took the high road when asked about Lopez’s loss to Kambosos. He expressed empathy for his rival and concern regarding the breathing condition that landed Lopez in a Manhattan intensive care unit a couple days after his loss to Kambosos (https://www.boxingscene.com/lomachenko-i-not-happy-teofimo-lopez-lost-i-understand-what-hes-feeling--162635).
Kambosos dropped Lopez late in the first round, overcame Lopez’s rally and his own knockdown early in the 10th round to top Lopez on two of three scorecards (115-111, 115-112, 113-114).
Lomachenko, meanwhile, is consistently listed as at least an 8-1 favorite to conquer Commey in a main event ESPN will televise as part of a four-bout broadcast from Madison Square Garden (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).
“Look, I’m following the belts,” Lomachenko said. “For me, it doesn’t matter if it will be Lopez or someone else. So, now we have George Kambosos. Now he’s my goal. But first of all, Saturday night.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.