Vasily Lomachenko made an extraordinary choice.
At the beginning of this year he was on the way to agreeing to a great unsolicited collaboration with George Kambosos. It’s the fight he wanted since he lost his belt in the match they beat Teofimo Lopez.
But when Russia invaded Ukraine, he left boxing to return to his country and support the right fight.
It was a brave decision, and it wasn’t selfish, but Lomachenko didn’t hesitate.
“The decision was made quickly and my whole family was behind it because it couldn’t have been any other way,” Lomachenko told Lomachenko. Sky Sports.
Lomachenko does not know how long the fight will last, how he will be able to return to boxing or what will happen to him. He was reaching for it all.
His promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum said: “At that time when Russia invaded Ukraine, Lomachenko was out of the country. He was training for his next fight in Greece, in some mountains in Greece. And apparently I called Egis. [Klimas, his manager] I said, ‘Hey, stay there’. But he flew to Romania again because all the airports were closed due to the war going on in Ukraine at the time and he rented a car and crossed the border from Romania to Ukraine to return.
“He carried the flag of Ukraine in two Olympic Games, where he won gold medals. He is a proud Ukrainian and that does not surprise me.”
He joined the Territorial Defense military service. He took up arms even though he did not have to engage in combat activities himself. He was still directly affected by the war.
“Yes, we have experienced bombings many times near our town, near our district. Many times, we went down to the warehouse to find shelter from the bombings that usually happen in our area,” he said.
Arum thought: “This says a hell of a lot about Ukraine and the person Vasiliy is and Oleksandr. [Usyk, who did the same]. What Ukrainian people stand for and how they sacrifice to preserve their identity. They have such values.”
Regardless of the risks that have put him in, this choice to leave the sport of boxing has been compared to Muhammad Ali, who lost his years fighting against the Vietnam War. .
Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of the Greatest, made the comparison himself. “Lomachenko left his career to fight for what he believed in, that’s what my grandfather did, he left his career to fight for what he believed in, you don’t see that nowadays. But there’s something greater about giving up everything you want for what you stand for. It’s just powerful,” Ali Walsh said. Sky Sports.
“Of course, it is a noble and brave thing for Lomachenko to do what he did and for Usyk. Not only him, there are many people from Ukraine who left boxing altogether to fight for their country. But I have things that a lot. Respect them.”
Lomachenko can now return to sports. He will fight Jameine Ortiz at Madison Square Garden early Sunday morning, live. Sky Sports Arena from 1 am.
Ali Walsh will be under his card. He said: “As a boxer, I respect him to the next level. But when a person leaves his sport, what he loves, and his profession, and goes to fight for his country, it takes a different person.
“He’s a special person, a special boxer and I think he’s going to come out on top in this next fight because it’s his comeback fight.”
Lomachenko will use this platform and his boxing prowess to represent his country.
“It really raises awareness and at the same time it gives an opportunity to people in my country to be distracted, even for an hour or two, from everything that is going on. Of course, those who have this opportunity, those who are right in the battle. Now, in the battlefield, they can’t watch the battle,” he said.
Ortiz is the one who has some inside information on Lomachenko. He saw how the great Ukrainian was working in the gym and had previously broken up with him. That can create more threats.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” said Lomachenko. “In the arsenal he has speed, he has a good combination, he has an understanding of movement in the ring.”
But he warned: “At the same time I allowed him more than he allowed me because he was my training partner when I killed two or three opponents at the same time, so he has no experience with wake me up like one. one.
“He doesn’t have me 100 percent. So I know him a lot, maybe he knows me better than him.”
A win in this fight would put Lomachenko back on his way to his dream of boxing – an unusual competition.
Prosecutor Bob Arum stated that his withdrawal from the Kambosos fight “opened the door.” [Devin] Haney won all the titles”.
“Devin is a great fighter and he went to Australia and won the fight and was given a rematch contract. And talking to Devin and his father, they were ready, as good players, to give Lomachenko a shot to win these titles.” Arum continued to say.
If he beats Ortiz, Lomachenko will get the fight he wants. Arum added, “As long as he is not injured, may God protect him, in the war that is going on in his country.”
“Vasiliy, I asked if he could stay here after the war. He said no, he would take a few weeks to return to Ukraine and if necessary he would hold a gun again.
“Also, there are other things in life that are more important than sports and how much money you can get in sports.”
A win in this fight would put Lomachenko back where he wants to be, at the top of the heavyweight division. “Of course. That’s how I see it, as the next step in the fight against Devin Haney. But a lot will depend on how our fight on October 29 will be,” said the Ukrainian.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity, I thank God, I’m thankful for fate, the circumstances of this opportunity, I’m back in the ring and trying to achieve one of my biggest goals in boxing. .”
Watch Vasily Lomachenko vs Jamaine Ortiz, live on Sky Sports Stadium at 1am on Sunday.