Bob Arum has no idea how the rumor began.
Arum is absolutely certain, though, that there’s no truth to persistent speculation on social media regarding a Vasiliy Lomachenko-George Kambosos Jr. fight taking place in Kambosos’ home country of Australia later this year. The 91-year-old promoter confirmed to BoxingScene.com that Ukraine’s Lomachenko will take the remainder of 2023 off before deciding who he wants to fight in 2024.
“I met with Egis before he went off to Poland for the Usyk fight,” Arum said in reference to Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager. “We tried to make the fight between Shakur and Loma. And Egis told us that Loma has decided that he’s not fighting again this year. So, the fact that they’re talking about a fight with Loma and Kambosos is nonsense. Egis would not mislead us, and he told us that Loma wants to take the rest of the year off.”
Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) has long been promoted by Arum’s Top Rank Inc. Sydney’s Kambosos (21-2, 10 KOs), who is also represented by DiBella Entertainment, entered a co-promotional deal with Top Rank before his last fight – a controversial, 12-round, majority-decision defeat of British southpaw Maxi Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs) on July 22 at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Lomachenko was supposed to challenge Kambosos for the IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight titles Kambosos owned for the first five months of 2022, but Lomachenko understandably passed on that title shot after Russia invaded his home country. The three-division champion’s decision enabled Haney to beat Kambosos in a full title unification fight that took place in June 2022 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
The 35-year-old Lomachenko most recently lost a debatable decision to Haney, who won their 12-round lightweight title fight on all three scorecards May 20 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Haney has since decided to move up to the 140-pound division for his next bout.
Haney (30-0, 15 KOs), of Henderson, Nevada, is expected to challenge WBC super lightweight champion Regis Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs), but a deal for their fight hasn’t been finalized. Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC, recently revealed that Haney has been designated its lightweight champion in recess.
Once it became clear Shakur Stevenson wouldn’t get a shot at Haney next, Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs) pursued a showdown with Lomachenko in November. Lomachenko turned down that opportunity, but Stevenson, a two-weight world champion from Newark, New Jersey, will still headline a card ESPN is set to televise November 16 from an undetermined venue in Las Vegas.
The card that’ll feature Stevenson will take place on a Thursday night, in conjunction with Formula One’s Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Stevenson has called out numerous opponents, including Haney, Lomachenko and Jamaine Ortiz. Arum’s matchmakers are nevertheless still trying to secure an opponent for Stevenson’s return to the ring.
“We’re working on that,” Arum said. “We’ll get somebody because we have the resources to do it. Shakur will be in action, and we’ll see who the best available guy is for him to fight. I think Shakur is the most talented guy in the lightweight division, but we’re making progress [on securing an opponent].”
Stevenson and Kambosos came face to face and talked trash when Kambosos left the ring after he fought Hughes last month. Kambosos is not considered a potential opponent for Stevenson’s next fight, though.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.