Arum: Lomachenko The Best Since Ali
Few boxers have skyrocketed into elite status with fewer professional bouts that Vasyl Lomachenko. The former amateur legend and 6-1 pro has already captured belts in two divisions, and has now been linked to a potential bout with Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao.
Lomachenko defends his junior-lightweight title against Nicholas Walters on Nov. 26 in one of his most dangerous tests to date. Despite the stiff challenge ahead of him, Lomachenko is already being mentioned as a potential opponent for Manny Pacquiao.
In a media call ahead of Lomachenko vs. Walters, Top Rank head Bob Arum said that the Ukranian champion could fight the Filipino legend as soon as 2017. According to Arum, the sky is the limit for Lomachenko, who seeks challenges with every fight he takes.
"He has a huge upside. This is the second World Title [Lomachenko has won] in seven professional fights,” Arum said.
“It’s never happened before and he’s going to win other World Titles as he goes up in weight."
While Arum is Lomachenko’s promoter and thus his praise must be taken with more than a grain of salt, the Top Rank boss says he believes the Ukranian super-featherweight is a historically magnificent combatant.
"Vasyl Lomachenko is technically the best fighter that I have seen since the early Muhammad Ali," Arum said. "There is nobody that I have seen, and there have been a lot of great technical fighters that I have seen – Alexis Arguello was one, Floyd Mayweather certainly, Manny Pacquiao – but there has been nobody with the skills that Vasyl Lomachenko has."
If Lomachenko can defeat Walters, he has many great matchups in the 130 lb. division, including Francisco Vargas or a rematch with Orlando Salido, who handed Lomachenko his only loss. The highest-profile fight, however, would be against Pacquiao, who made a successful comeback against Jesse Vargas on Nov. 4.
“There’s going to be very, very interesting guys for him to fight. I mean, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he and Manny could fight sometime next year,” added Arum.
Pacquiao won a 147 lb. title from Vargas, but he and his coach Freddie Roach have discussed the possibility of fighting Lomachenko at 140 lbs. Lomachenko, on the other hand, wants the fight at 135 —for now, at least: "Hi-Tech" has proven his willingness to take risks in terms of matchmaking, and the legend Pacquiao is a name he most likely would like on his resume.
“Vasyl Lomachenko wants challenges. A lot of people are watching him, not just boxing fans, because he is such an unbelievable performer. I’ve had a lot of people who are not really into boxing and have said what an unbelievable talent he is.”