Vasyl Lomachenko and Miguel Marriaga are ready to battle on ESPN
By Kelly Owen
Published: July 14, 2017
LOS ANGELES - Promoter Top Rank held a press conference today for the upcoming WBO Jr. Lightweight title defense bout between two-time Olympic gold medallist, Vasyl Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs) and Miguel Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs) taking place in Los Angeles at the Microsoft Theater on August 5.
The fight was announced as the second main event to be aired on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and streamed live on the ESPN app in the newly formed partnership with Top Rank. Bob Arum, Founder, and CEO of Top Rank has high hopes for the new venture, stating that it is, ‘The start of a new era in the sport of boxing,' and that, ‘Boxing has been a niche sport for too long… with the help of ESPN showcasing these great fighters, we will bring boxing back to the mainstream and boxing will once again be a great sport.' Arum later suggested that the recent bout between Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) and newly crowned welterweight champion, Jeff Horn, (17-0-1, 11 KOs) was just the beginning.
This is the third Jr. Lightweight title defense for Ukraine national, Lomachenko. The Ukrainian was quick to reassure fans and spectators alike that he was eager to return to the ring to ‘show the world what I do best,' after his most recent victory over Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) in April of this year. When asked about the swiftness in which he was returning to the ring, Lomachenko replied, ‘I am ready to fight every two months.' A statement which promoter Bob Arum was quick to amend, suggesting that while every two months was an unrealistic expectation, a fighter with Vasyl’s skill set should be fighting a minimum of four times a year.
When questioned about the failed rematch attempt with veteran brawler, Orlando Salido (44-13-4, 31 KOs), Lomachenko mentioned that while still, he retained his interest in the grudge match, it certainly had an expiration date.
A known stickler for studying every opponent, Lomachenko, when asked whether the change in match up from Salido to Marriaga had changed anything in his fight preparation responded, ‘We are boxers. We fight whoever is in front of us.’ An opportunity in which it might have been prudent to question the recent (and ongoing) social media tussle taking place with Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs).
The stalled Salido rematch was a fortuitous turn of events for Miguel Marriaga who immediately jumped on board to challenge Lomachenko. Marriaga made a move from 126lb to 130lb for his third attempt at a world title after losses to former Lomachenko rival, Nicholas ‘Axe Man’ Walters (26-1-1, 21 KOs) and Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs). Marriaga seemed excited about the fight.
When reminded of his underdog status, Mariagga confidently took the suggestion in stride, replying that is was normal for him to be the underdog. It is certain that Marriaga will bring not only his heavy right hand into this fight but also tremendous amounts of heart and a refusal to be intimidated, the latter a trait that has been lacking in recent opponents of Lomachenko’s.
Raymundo Beltran (33-7-1, 21 KOs) was also present at the conference and there was much to do being made about his exceptional knockout of Jonathan Maicelo (25-3, 12 KOs) in May, in what I assume was an attempt to draw emotion out of him by mentioning the importance of his fight career in relation to his US Green Card status.
Beltran will take on Bryan Vasquez (35-2, 19 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight co-feature which will also take place on the night. Tickets go on sale Thursday 13th July at 1pm/10am Pacific time, with prices ranging from $30-$130.
(Feature Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)