As athletes around the world do their part to spread the message of peace over the escalating situation in Ukraine far and wide, former unified lightweight champion Vasily Lomachenko has potentially put his world title on the line against George Kambosos to join the fight against the Russian invasion.
Lomachenko joined other Ukrainian sporting heroes in the battle to defend their homeland, as well as heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, the Klitschko brothers, ex-Arsenal star Oleg Luzhny and Tiraspol sheriff manager Yuriy Vernydub.
According to ESPN, the 34-year-old was in Greece when the invasion began, and his flight back to Ukraine late last week was delayed due to grounded air traffic.
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Determined to return home to his family, the two-time Olympic gold medalist flew to Bucharest and crossed Romania to his home outside Odessa. A few days later, a viral photo of Lomachenko with local mayor Vitaly Hrazhdan was shared on his Facebook page, dressed in a military uniform and carrying an assault rifle.
Talk of a stadium fight in Melbourne against current unified champion Kambosos in the middle of the year was starting to gain momentum.
The June title fight is set to be televised in the United States on ESPN and Lomachenko agreed to his part of the deal early last month.
But with the Ukrainian star now back home indefinitely, you’d think those plans should be put on the back burner now.
Wide World of Sports has contacted the Kambosos camp for clarification on the event, but the Sydney fighter declined to comment on Lomachenko’s involvement at this stage as talks are still ongoing.
The outbreak of war could open the door for WBC champion Devin Haney to fill the gap, although the fight against Lomachenko would have more reach for broadcast dollars outside the United States.
Lomachenko has won back-to-back wins since undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff following his decision loss to Teofimo Lopez in October 2020.
His friend and WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion boxer Usyk also enlisted in the armed forces, with his future also under a cloud.
Usyk, 35, was in talks with Anthony Joshua over a rematch after beating the British boxer by unanimous decision in September last year, but that fight is now at risk of being delayed.
Usyk posted a photo of himself with three soldiers dressed in full military gear and with a gun.
“We are so proud of our boxers, our true boxing champions and champions of this war,” said Mykola Kovalchuk, president of WBC Ukraine. “We are proud to be Ukrainians.”
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