Ukrainian boxing star chooses army over title fight
Ukrainian boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko has dropped his title fight with George Kambosos after joining a defense battalion during Russia's attack on his homeland, US promoter Lou DiBella has revealed.
Former three-weight champion Lomachenko is ranked among the world's top ten fighters and had been targeting Kambosos's WBA, WBC ‘franchise’, IBF and WBO lightweight belts after the Australian agreed to fight him in Melbourne on June 5.
The 34-year-old, who lost three titles to Teofimo Lopez in 2020, is part of a territorial defense battalion working on a border and has been pictured wearing combat clothing since the conflict started.
Men aged between 18 and 60 are barred from leaving Ukraine under the martial law imposed in the country, although efforts have been made to allow top athletes to safely leave.
@VasylLomachenko I respect your decision and I totally understand and I pray for you and your country 🙏🏻🇺🇦 please stay safe and once i wipe the floor with Devin, we will make this fight between two real champions. God bless— George "Ferocious" Kambosos Jr (@georgekambosos) March 21, 2022
"The fight he's going through right now is much bigger than any boxing match," said DiBella, who promotes Kambosos, speaking to ESPN.
"We made a deal with him, the deal was literally done before the invasion, we wanted to give him any chance within reason with our allowable timetable.
"We have nothing but the utmost respect for his decision. Kambosos wanted to make sure once we made that deal that Lomachenko had ample time to decide."
Unbeaten American Devin Haney has been offered the chance to replace Lomachenko.
The 23-year-old denied he was racist after saying he would "never lose to a white boy in my life" while discussing a potential bout with Lomachenko in 2020.
"I respect your decision and I totally understand and I pray for you and your country," Kambosos told Lomachenko.
"Please stay safe and once I wipe the floor with Devin, we will make this fight between two real champions. God bless."
Devout Christian Lomachenko has posted two religious messages since the start of the attack on Instagram, where he has more than 2.1 million followers.
The southpaw published a photo two days before the conflict began on February 24, showing himself at the St. Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos in Greece – an important Eastern Orthodox site.
Lomachenko won featherweight gold at the 2008 Olympic Games and became lightweight champion at the 2012 edition.
He is one of several prominent Ukrainian boxing figures contributing to their country's military operations, including heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and legendary veterans Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.