Former world champion boxer Vasyl Lomachenko will need to leave Ukraine in order to accept a world title fight with George Kambosos Jr.
The former unified champion lost his belts to Teofimo Lopez in 2020, but missed out on the chance at a rematch when the American was beaten in his first mandatory title defence against Kambosos Jr in November. Instead, the legendary boxer will have to travel to Melbourne to face the champion on his home turf, presumably at the Marvel Stadium.
However, he is currently preoccupied by the situation in his home country, where he has joined the Belgorod-Dniester Terror Defence Battalion after Russia invaded. He has been hailed a "hero" for taking up arms in Ukraine, where he had to drive over the border due to travel issues.
His promoter Bob Arum told Fight Club that a deal "in principle" had been agreed for the fight until the conflict began, with Lomachenko instead opting to go home and fight on the front lines. "He couldn’t fly into Ukraine," Arum explained. "So he flew back to Romania and got a car and drove over the border to be with his family and enlist in the defence of Ukraine."
It now remains to be seen if he will be able to get back to his Greek training camp, or if Kambosos Jr will instead need to take another fight, likely against American Devin Haney. A bout with the California native would put the undisputed lightweight title on the line, with Haney holding the WBC belt, although many consider Kambosos, as WBC franchise champion, to be essentially undisputed.
Arum has said that the fight is now up in the air as the situation in Ukraine rages on, with Russian forces still attacking cities across the country. Former world heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko have also taken to the frontline, as has current unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
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"He felt his obligation was to the people of Ukraine and he was going to stand and fight against the Russian aggression," Arum said of Lomachenko. "Now that to me is real heroism. And not that, it hit really in the pocketbook because he’s no fool, we had a deal in principle with Lou DiBella for him to fight Kambosos in Australia in June and that fight now is obviously in jeopardy because he is in Ukraine fighting for his people."
ESPN has reported that a deadline has been set for the end of this month for a decision to be made on who Kambosos will fight, to give DiBella enough time to promote the event, which would take place the first weekend of June. Haney was always the preferred option, but Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing were not in the same place as DiBella financially for the deal to be made.