Reclaiming his kingdom – Lomachenko’s biggest test yet

The buzz around the lightweight division with its young, hungry rivals and its fresh faces throwing up unexpected twists has perhaps overlooked the looming presence of a former king.

Vasiliy Lomachenko, the boxing genius who steps back into the ring on Saturday night live on Sky Sports, may yet throw a spanner into the works of this new generation.

He was unceremoniously knocked off his perch last year when he was outpointed by Teofimo Lopez in a fight for every major belt in the division.

Image: George Kambosos Jr holds every major title in the lightweight division

“There will be no rematch. Had I lost, they would have never given me the opportunity, so I’m not doing it,” was Lopez’s withering response to fighting Lomachenko again.

For a period the magnificent Ukrainian whose skills are otherworldly was locked in purgatory – on the outside looking in, at a champion who would never oblige him again.

‘The Four Kings’ re-emerged – youthful, unbeaten vibrant Americans Lopez, Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia seemingly promised an era of sensational fights between them in the way that ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns once did.

Suddenly, everything changed.

Image: Kambosos Jr knocked down and upset Lopez

Lopez, in his first round of boxing since upsetting Lomachenko, found himself on the canvas against George Kambosos Jr, the plucky Australian underdog. Lopez could not wrestle back control and his title reign was over before it had truly begun.

Kambosos Jr is the shock new king who nobody expected – this past weekend, he was ringside to watch Haney then Davis retain their versions of the WBC and WBA belts.

There is a new target for Lomachenko ahead of his return against Richard Commey that even he did not predict.

Image: Can Lomachenko reign again?

“We will see,” he tells Sky Sports about Kambosos Jr. “Of course I want this fight.

“Before the fight, I gave some chance to Kambosos but I thought Lopez would win.”

Lomachenko is a three-weight world champion who unified the WBA, WBC and WBO lightweight belts in the UK when he battled past Luke Campbell, the scene of the second of his consecutive Olympic gold medals in a glittering career which, aged 33, may still have further chapters to write.

Image: Lomachenko is chasing a second consecutive KO

“Belts – it’s my goal in boxing,” he warns. “Now, it’s the undisputed world champion. This is my motivation.”

He is wary to talk about targeting Kambosos Jr just days away from his own fight against Commey. He wonders if Lopez overlooked Kambosos Jr by talking trash with Josh Taylor, and he doesn’t want to make a similar mistake.

“Maybe, nobody knows,” Lomachenko wonders. “Only Lopez’s family…”

Perhaps a subtle dig at Lopez Senior, the brash father of the former champion whose attitude and instructions in the corner were criticised in the wake of his son’s loss.

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Lomachenko dismantled Masayoshi Nakatani in a spiteful display

Lomachenko most recently knocked out Masayoshi Nakatani, a contender who went the full 12 rounds with Lopez.

On Saturday night he faces Commey, who Lopez beat inside two rounds.

It is no coincidence he is trying to make an example of Lopez without actually sharing the ring with him again.

Image: Gervonta Davis has 24 KOs in 26 wins and owns a WBA belt

In the meantime, Haney and Davis wear belts in a complicated lightweight scene.

Garcia lashed out at Davis’ win on Sunday night: “You almost lost.”

Davis said the other contenders are “easy work”.

Image: Devin Haney verbally agreed to fight Kambosos Jr next

Haney and Kambosos Jr verbally agreed to meet in the ring.

But is Lomachenko better than them all?

“I don’t want to talk about myself. It’s a question for fans, for people who understand boxing,” he cryptically answers.

Image: ‘King’ Ryan Garcia is an emerging threat

“I always try to show my best style and my best skill.”

All that’s left is for Lomachenko to demonstrate what skills he still possesses on Saturday to add an extra layer of intrigue to this fascinating division.

Sky Sports Boxing schedule

Sunday December 12 – Top Rank in New York
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Richard Commey
Jared Anderson vs Oleksandr Teslenko
Nico Ali Walsh

Sunday December 18 – Top Rank in Montreal
Artur Beterbiev vs Marcus Browne – IBF and WBC light-heavyweight titles

Saturday January 29 – BOXXER in Cardiff
Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Williams
Claressa Shields vs Ema Kozin – IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles

Saturday February 19 – BOXXER in Manchester – Sky Sports Box Office
Amir Khan vs Kell Brook

Saturday February 26 – Top Rank in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall – undisputed super-lightweight titles

Source : Sky Sports