Vasiliy Lomachenko’s reign as the WBO super featherweight is officially over.
After winning the WBO super featherweight title in 2016 and four successful defenses of the title, Lomachenko has elected to surrender the title and keep the WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight titles he won when he knocked out former champion Jorge Linares on May 12 in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card at Madison Square Garden.
In a letter to WBO President Francisco Valcarcel, Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti expressed on Lomachenko's behalf gratitude to the organization and intentions of remaining the WBA lightweight champion. Below is an excerpt of the letter.
"As you saw he was successful in capturing the lightweight title. Vasiliy wishes to continue to campaign in the lightweight division, therefore, we respectfully relinquish our WBO Junior Lightweight title so that an opportunity may be given to the ranked contenders to compete for the vacant belt."
Lomachenko set a record by becoming a three-division world champion in just 12 professional fights when he defeated Linares. His last WBO super featherweight title defense came last year at Madison Square Garden when he defeated former top pound-for-pound boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux in a fight that was among the most-watched boxing fights in 2017.
As far as a first lightweight title defense is concerned, Top Rank is hoping to pit Lomachenko against WBO lightweight champion Raymundo Beltran, another boxer promoted by Top Rank, in a unification bout. That fight could take place in California in August on ESPN.
Lomachenko vacating the title isn’t a complete surprise as Christopher Diaz and Masayuki Ito, the WBO’s top 2 super featherweights, had already been negotiating a fight in the event Lomachenko does vacate the WBO title.
The full letter can be read at this link.