George Kambosos won’t be fighting Vasiliy Lomachenko after all.
Lomachenko had agreed to a deal last month for a fight with Kambosos on June 5 in Melbourne, Australia, but the two-time Olympic gold medalist has elected to remain in Ukraine with his family rather than leave the country for training camp, Kambosos’ promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN on Monday.
Lomachenko, 34, is a member of a territorial defense battalion in Ukraine working a security detail on the border during the war, which began last month when Russia invaded. Under martial law in Ukraine, men aged 18 to 60 and deemed fit to serve are barred from leaving the country, but efforts were being made to allow elite athletes to depart.
“How can anyone question, the fight he’s going through right now is much bigger than any boxing match,” DiBella said. “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. … We said all along we would try to make the biggest fights and we did that today.”
Devin Haney, meanwhile, on Monday was again offered the undisputed lightweight title fight with Kambosos on June 5 at Marvel Stadium, sources told ESPN. Haney, 23, has pushed for the bout but waited in the wings as Plan B after Lomachenko agreed to a deal. The deal Haney was offered is similar to the one Lomachenko accepted, sources said.
“You were offered [the fight] months ago & you played around,” Kambosos tweeted at Haney. “In the meantime the great man Vasiliy Lomachenko made it very simple to do anything to make it happen & it was a done deal. But Loma now has a bigger fight [at the moment] which I totally respect so let’s see how much of your word is true.”
Haney (27-0, 15 KOs) owns the WBC lightweight title while Kambosos is the WBC’s franchise champion. The Australian also owns the other three major 135-pound titles and is recognized by many as the undisputed lightweight champion. If Kambosos and Haney fight each other, there can be no debate any longer.
“The WBO had made it very clear that it would strip George Kambosos Jr. if he were to fight anybody other than the mandatory, Vasiliy Lomacheko,” Kambosos’ manager, Peter Kahn, told ESPN. “George did not want to relinquish any of the belts and therefore was going to … fight the mandatory. In his mind he was always going to win and then would move on to fight Devin Haney.
“Yes, there were other factors at play regarding the deals that were presented but it also served another purpose, which is to keep the belts intact.”
Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs) won the titles with a split-decision victory over Teofimo Lopez in November in ESPN’s Upset of the Year. Kambosos, 28, was dropped in the opening round of the slugfest but rebounded to floor Lopez in Round 10. He was subsequently rated No. 1 at 135 pounds by ESPN.
Lomachenko, a former three-division champion, lost his unified championship to Lopez in October 2020. He fought with a torn rotator cuff and underwent surgery to repair the shoulder following the bout. Since then, he has won two consecutive bouts: a ninth-round TKO of Masayoshki Nakatani in June followed by a unanimous-decision victory over Richard Commey in December.
Haney, who fights out of Las Vegas, broke out in 2021 with decision wins over former champions Jorge Linares and Joseph Diaz Jr.