Arum plots Ali and Armstrong path for brilliant Lomachenko

By Sports Desk September 01, 2019

Vasyl Lomachenko can follow the examples of Muhammad Ali and Henry Armstrong to seal his place among boxing's all-time greats, according to promoter Bob Arum.

Lomachenko added the vacant WBC lightweight title to his WBA and WBO belts with a masterful unanimous-decision victory over fellow Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell at London's O2 Arena on Saturday.

A sold-out crowd were far from partisan, with the 31-year-old Ukrainian's dazzling skills earning warm approval after Campbell started impressively and remained competitive throughout.

Veteran matchmaker Arum has more than half a century of experience in the sport and ranks Lomachenko among the very best he has worked alongside.

That list includes global icon Ali, whose most celebrated nights spanned Zaire, Manila and beyond, and the 87-year-old feels the punters will similarly follow wherever Lomachenko laces his gloves next.

"The truth is that Loma is such a big star here in the UK and the fight fans are so sophisticated that he doesn't necessarily have to fight a Brit to come back here and sell out the O2," Arum said, with the defeat of Campbell coming on the back of a comprehensive stoppage triumph over Manchester's Anthony Crolla in April.

"Muhammad Ali, who's my mentor in effect because I was with him for so long, taught me one thing: if you're going to be a world superstar in boxing, you have to fight all over the world.

"You can't limit yourself to the United States or any one country. My goal and, I think, Loma's goal is to have him fight all around the world because there's a tremendous market for him among sports fans.

"With Ali, we fought here, we fought in Germany, we fought in Japan, we fought in the Philippines, Switzerland – all over the world. That's what a world champion has to do, in my opinion, to be a superstar.

"I think Loma's on that page. He wants the opportunity to fight all over the world."

However, it is a man of similar stature – rather than boxing's most adored heavyweight – who Arum expects Lomachenko to most closely emulate over the coming years.

Armstrong generally accompanies Ali in the upper reaches when boxing's finest practitioners are listed, following his unprecedented feat of holding featherweight, lightweight and welterweight titles simultaneously in the late 1930s.

Lomachenko wants to clean out the lightweight division, with Richard Commey's IBF belt the only significant one missing from his collection, but feels the featherweight and super-featherweight categories he previously ruled represent more natural fits for his diminutive stature.

"He's a man who is going to do what Henry Armstrong did – fight simultaneously in three different weight divisions," Arum said.

"That's a dream for Vasyl Lomachenko. Not only to unify all the belts, which he eventually will do sometime next year, but fight the best fighters at 135lbs, 130lbs and 126lbs.

"You can see the size of a normal lightweight is represented by Luke Campbell. Vasyl is a much smaller guy and someone who can fight at the lower weights like 126."

Sitting alongside his promoter, Lomachenko reacted with endearing bafflement when asked whether he should be considered one of the best boxers ever.

"Why do you ask me about this?" he replied. "Ask the people, ask the fans. Why is my opinion important? I don't understand."

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