ESPN’s top pound-for-pound fighter has a new date to face one of boxing’s rising stars.
Lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko is scheduled to face Teofimo Lopez in a unification bout on Sept. 19, Top Rank chief Bob Arum told ESPN’s Mark Kriegel.
Lomachenko, who holds the WBO and WBA lightweight belts, was initially scheduled to face Lopez, who holds the IBF belt, on May 30 at Madison Square Garden. But that fight was scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) hasn’t been in the ring since October 2019, when he won a unanimous decision over Luke Campbell. It was only the second time since 2014 that he didn’t win via stoppage.
Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) earned one of the four major belts in the 130-pound division when he stopped Richard Commey in December 2019. The Brooklyn native, who was ESPN’s 2018 prospect of the year, fought four times last year as he ramped up toward a belt.
The undefeated titleholder had previously complained about the negotiations with Lomachenko, who went back to his home country of Ukraine during the pandemic.
“I try to make these fights happen for the fans, the fans are the ones that win at the end of the day. But honestly, we’re not going to wait on this guy,” Lopez said in March. “We gave him everything he needs and everything he wants, and now he’s complaining about New York, he wants it in Vegas, he wants it in Cali. It’s been annoying.”
Both fighters are represented by Top Rank. In May, Arum told ESPN both fighters were adamant about a showdown in 2020, even if the circumstances were atypical because of the pandemic.
“In talking with Lomachenko and Lopez, neither of them want an interim fight,” Arum said. “So we would plan to do that in September, with or without an audience.”
Arum previously suggested that the fight would be a pay-per-view bout that could still be an event in Las Vegas that adheres to current safety protocols. Since early June, Top Rank has hosted multiple cards per week in the city.
Egis Klimas, who manages Lomachenko, told ESPN in May there is no concern about having no fans in attendance.
“Nothing matters,” Klimas said. “As long as Lopez is coming in the ring with Lomachenko.”