While tentative at first, it appears that Top Rank is ready to book its top fights, with or without fans.
After looking into it, Bob Arum has confirmed that IBF Lightweight Champion Teofimo Lopez (15-0) and WBA, WBO, and WBC Lightweight Champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1) will face off in a unification bout on September 19. This was announced during last night’s Alex Saucedo v. Sonny Fredrickson fight in Las Vegas. The next few months are now critical for Top Rank.
Both fighters were supposedly scheduled to fight in March, but the coronavirus pandemic halted talks for a clash. Arum was interested in trying to provide both fighters with tune-up fights, but neither wanted to go through with them.
“In talking with Lomachenko and Lopez, neither of them want an interim fight,” Arum stated, via ESPN. “So we would plan to do that in September, with or without an audience.”
Lopez turned professional in 2016. He won NABF gold in 2018 and ended up knocking out Richard Commey back in December to win the IBF Lightweight Title. The 22-year-old has twelve wins via knockout.
Lomachenko won gold in his first professional fight in 2013. He ended up winning the WBO Featherweight Title in his third fight. Holding junior-featherweight gold at one point, “Loma” won the WBA Lightweight Title from Jorge Linares. A WBO Champion, Lomachenko last fought Luke Campbell in August, where he won the WBC Lightweight Title.
Arum was hoping to have the fight in Allegiant Stadium, home of the now-Las Vegas Raiders. He was also hoping this would be the fight to experiment with fans inside. With COVID-19 numbers growing in the United States according to John Hopkins University, that may not be a possibility anymore. Now, there is a chance the bout could take place inside the MGM Grand Conference Center inside the “Bubble”, where Top Rank has been hosting events.
“I would love the fans to be at Allegiant Stadium, I would love for us to be the first fight (at the stadium),” Lopez stated, via Bad Left Hook. “I think everybody else would, too, even Lomachenko himself.
“But we’re prepared to fight with or without fans. But this type of fight, everyone wants it to be with fans.”
Arum recently told Yahoo Sports that he is currently in discussions with the Nevada Atheltic commission and MGM Grand about having fans at events. Stay tuned, as more information should be released regarding his efforts and the clash.