Report: Unification fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez on for Sept. 19

Jack Baer
Writer

The lightweight unification fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez finally has a new date.

The No. 3 pound-for-pound boxer in the world as ranked by Yahoo Sports will face the rising star on Sept. 19, Top Rank’s Bob Arum told ESPN on Tuesday.

On the line will be Lomachenko’s WBA, WBO and Ring magazine titles, while Lopez will enter with his IBF belt. American Devin Haney holds the remaining WBC lightweight title.

The two fighters were initially scheduled to face each other on May 30 at Madison Square Garden, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic obviously threw a wrench in those plans. It has been an especially long wait for Lomachenko, who has not fought since Aug. 31, 2019 when he beat Luke Campbell by unanimous decision.

Vasiliy Lomachenko will go a full year without an official bout. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

The 14-1 Lomachenko remains undefeated as a lightweight. His date against Lopez represents a return among the sport’s top boxers, as bouts like Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury’s trilogy have been postponed by the pandemic. Top Rank has held cards in recent weeks, but has been hesitant with its biggest names due to the loss of revenue from the lack of fans in attendance.

That could change with Lomachenko-Lopez, as Arum told Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole earlier this month that his company has been engaged with the Nevada Athletic Commission and the MGM Grand about having a limited number of fans in attendance — as many as 2,500 spaced out in an arena — for the potential bout.

That still isn’t nearly as many fans as normal, but it would still represent much more money than a potential fight with no fans in attendance:

“We’re not talking cheap tickets here,” Arum said. “So we’d have to give them something for their money to make it a nice night and worth their while. We could serve food, give them some [fight merchandise], a program, drinks, that kind of thing. Make it a really classy event with some great fights.

“With the purses these kids get, we just need some kind of gate revenue to help us pull this off. We have to see how things go with this virus, but by that point, we’ll have had experience with this thing for a couple of months and we’ll know a lot more about how to do it safely. So that’s what we’re trying to do.”

It’s unclear if Arum has finalized plans for that set-up, especially with coronavirus cases still rising in Nevada.

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