With Vasyl Lomachenko looking so formidable, who is next to test the Ukrainian’s powers?
The 29-year-old produced another sparkling display in a nine-round stoppage win over Jason Sosa and is now being hailed by some as boxing’s pound-for-pound king.
Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs), a two-weight world champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist, has been compared to The Matrix — the science fiction film featuring Keanu Reeves — due to his fast fighting style.
Can anyone solve the matrix and where does Lomachenko go next for a harder fight that will give him wider acclaim?
43-13-4, 30 KOs, 1 NC
Gaining revenge for the single blemish on his nine-fight professional record is as good a bet as any to be Lomachenko’s next fight this summer.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wants to make the rematch with Salido and Lomachenko is agreeable after losing to the Mexican by a controversial split points decision in his second professional fight three years ago.
Salido, 36, may not have won in his last three fights and holds none of the other world super-featherweight titles that Lomachenko wants, but from a marketing perspective he is a good next opponent for the Ukrainian. Since beating Lomachenko, Salido lost on points to Roman Martinez for the WBO title before being held to disputed draw in the rematch and then drawing with Francisco Vargas for the WBC crown.
But Salido’s reputation has risen in his last three outings with the first Martinez fight and his last against Vargas being regarded as the best fights of 2015 and 2016 respectively. Salido brings excitement, interest as well as the rivalry with Lomachenko.
Salido, who supplements his boxing income by working as an Uber driver, has not fought since facing Vargas in June and turned down the chance of fighting Lomanchenko last Saturday after asking for a $1 million purse.
There will be another offer as Lomachenko wants to show he can now beat Salido. Three years ago, after Salido failed to make the featherweight limit for the WBO world title fight, Lomachenko was out-smarted by his more experienced opponent and afterwards complained about low blows.
“Back in the day, it was like a third grader fighting a 12th grader,” Lomachenko said after beating Sosa last weekend.
“Right now, I have graduated from the university and I want to invite him [Salido] to my school.”
21-1, 8 KOs, 1 NC
Known as El Invisible, Corrales was like his nickname and unseen on the world scene until he pulled off a shock win a year ago to become WBA world super-featherweight champion.
And with Lomachenko’s No. 1 priority to unify the belts at super-featherweight, Panamanian Corrales is a strong contender to face Lomachenko next instead of the better-known Salido.
Southpaw Corrales announced himself on the scene when he traveled to Tokyo to lift the WBA title by ending the six-year reign of Takashi Uchiyama with a second round knockout. Corrales won a rematch on points last New Year’s Eve — again in Japan — before then turning down an offer to face Lomachenko last weekend.
The chance to cash in against Lomachenko this summer might be too good to turn down for a second time and Corrales is available, with no plans for a next opponent.
Corrales, 25, lost his second pro fight and had faced limited opposition exclusively in his homeland until his shock win over Uchiyama. Although he holds a title, he may be a harder sell due to his lack of profile outside of Panama.
33-0, 13 KOs
The chance to become a three-weight world champion could see Lomachenko travel to England this summer and challenge Flanagan for his WBO lightweight title in Manchester.
“I want to negotiate with all the other champions in my division,” Lomachenko said after his pummelling of Sosa.
“If they refuse to fight me, I’m going to move up to 135 pounds. I’d like to fight [WBO lightweight title-holder Terry] Flanagan in England. [WBC lightweight title-holder Mikey] Garcia would be a great fight. I’d like to make that fight soon.”
A crowd of 20,000 would flock to see Lomachenko at an English venue and Flanagan is desperate to face a big name opponent.
Flanagan’s promoter Frank Warren even had talks with Lomachenko’s promoter Top Rank before Saturday, when Flanagan was also in action.
It was not the eye-catching display 27-year-old Flanagan would have wanted to help his chances of bringing one of the world’s best boxers to his home city, but he prevailed nevertheless over Russian Petr Petrov by a unanimous points decision a few hours before Lomachenko-Sosa.
Afterwards, Warren said Lomachenko and WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares were the options. Although Warren prefers a match-up with Linares, a fight with Lomachenko might be Flanagan’s best hope as Linares and Mikey Garcia are being lined up to fight each other this summer.
Flanagan, who has the longest unbeaten record in British boxing, is a big lightweight and would have over a three-inch height advantage over Lomachenko. He has also said he intends to move up to light-welterweight within 12 months — but a money-spinning fight against Lomachenko would keep him at lightweight.
36-0, 30 KOs
Three-weight world champion Garcia holds the WBC version of the world lightweight title and would be a more risky assignment than Flanagan.
Garcia, from California, is also in talks to face WBA champion Jorge Linares next which will be a big pay day so any fight with Lomachenko will have to wait.
The American won the WBC belt by knocking out Dejan Zlaticanin in January and sees Linares — winner over Briton Anthony Crolla last month — as his No 1 target, not Lomanchenko.
“I think it would be a great, great fight [against Linares],” said Garcia.
“I look forward to that. He didn’t get cut. I don’t see him injured, so I think we can get to work and maybe fight this summer.”
30-0, 21 KOs
“I’m working my way toward Terence Crawford,” said Lomanchenko. “I know that’s a big fight, and I know people want to see it.”
But the Ukrainian’s team don’t want to see it just yet as they view American Crawford as too risky. Crawford may also be promoted by Top Rank like Lomachenko, but he boxes at two weight divisions above the Ukrainian.
Crawford, the unified junior welterweight world champion, defends his WBO and WBC world titles against Felix Diaz on May 20 and is then expected to move up to welterweight.
“Lomachenko just got to 130 and I’m at 140, about to go up to 147,” said Crawford, from Omaha, Nebraska.
“So I don’t even see that fight being realistic.”
Others that may be considered include the winner of WBC super-featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28 KOs) against former title-holder Takashi Miura (31-3-2, 24 KOs). Mexican Berchelt, who knocked out Francisco Vargas in January, and Japan’s (31-3-2, 24 KOs) Miura have made a deal to face each other next, although no date or venue has yet been confirmed.