Vasyl Lomachenko finally has his lightweight world title fight.
According to ESPN's Dan Rafael, Lomachenko, the WBO super featherweight champion, will move up in weight and face WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares. That fight will headline a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card from Madison Square Garden on May 12. In the report, the contracts were signed on March 12 paving the way for another major ESPN boxing card at the venue.
Talks of a fight between Lomachenko and Linares have been making the rounds in the boxing world for weeks, but there were several hurdles before the fight became a reality. Firstly, there was an issue between ESPN and HBO, both of whom televise fights for Golden Boy Promotions, the company that promotes Linares. That issue was that HBO had a boxing card scheduled to take place on May 12 that would have interfered with the ESPN card.
ESPN agreed to have the fight card start at an earlier time (8 p.m. EST) but then a second issue occurred. ESPN was scheduled to televise a college softball game that would run over the 8 p.m. EST start time of the Top Rank Boxing card. That matter appears to have been resolved. The move comes as a surprise considering the heated rivalry between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank.
It will be the second straight fight that Lomachenko fights at Madison Square Garden. His last fight, which also was televised on ESPN, saw him defeat former WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux to retain his super featherweight world title. Linares has not fought since defeating Mercito Gesta on HBO back in January.