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Lomachenko wants to make history but he also wants a Salido rematch

01
Jun
Photo: Naoki Fukuda

Photo: Naoki Fukuda

Vasyl Lomachenko has a chance to make history on June 11 when he challenges junior lightweight titleholder Roman Martinez at Madison Square Garden’s Theater on HBO. But he also could have a chance to fight in front of an adversary he would like nothing more than to issue a little payback.

Lomachenko, 28, hopes to distinguish himself by becoming the first fighter to win a world title in a second weight class in just his seventh pro fight. He also would like to lure Orlando Salido back in the ring for a comeuppance after he lost a rugged split decision in 2014 to Salido for his only loss. The two may have a pair of reunions of sorts in the next few weeks. Lomachenko will be in attendance at StubHub Center on Saturday when Salido challenges junior lightweight titleholder Francisco Vargas in Carson, California. And if he wins, Salido is expected to be ringside on June 11 in New York City.

“As far as who’s going to win, I’m going to be cheering for Salido because I want to fight him one more time,” Lomachenko said on Wednesday through a translator. “I hope he’s going to win that fight.”

It’s a strange position for Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) to be in. It’s clear he still resents Salido for coming into their match overweight and fighting a tactically rugged match with a number of punches below the waistline. It was Lomachenko’s second fight as a pro, and Salido was stripped of his featherweight title for failing to make the featherweight limit at the weigh-in. Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, described Salido’s style as “dirty boxing” on a conference call on Wednesday to hype his fight with Martinez on June 11.

Lomachenko can still recall the first fight with Salido in vivid detail. “He came in the ring and took his t-shirt (off) and (I) saw a completely different person in front of me than what I saw at the weigh-in,” Lomachenko said. “It was a completely different person in front of me. Did I feel his weight in the ring? Yes, I did feel when I was fighting him but I can’t blame (the loss) on the weight. I was prepared for him to come heavier.”

When a reporter suggested on Wednesday that he may want to move up to win a title at lightweight before his tenth fight as a way to further set himself apart, Lomachenko seemed to welcome the idea. “I never thought about that — 10 fights or less to become a 135-pounder,” Lomachenko said. “That’s actually a very good idea. Thank you very much for the tip. I will think about that after June 11.”

While most of the questions centered around Salido, Lomachenko did give his thoughts on the possibility of winning a title in a second division. “Of course I think about (making history),” Lomachenko said. “But I don’t feel any pressure to make history.” If he does set a new benchmark, Salido (if he wins) will be there to see it.

Mitch Abramson is a former reporter for the New York Daily News and can be reached on Twitter at: @Mabramson13.

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