Pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko has officially vacated his junior lightweight world title, opting instead to keep the lightweight world title he won from Jorge Linares on May 12. Carl Moretti, the vice president of Top Rank, which promotes Lomachenko, sent a letter on Wednesday to WBO president Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel notifying the organization of Lomachenko's decision, which was expected.
"I am writing you on behalf of Team Lomachenko. As you are well aware on May 12 Vasiliy moved up in weight to challenge WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares," Moretti wrote. "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.
"Paco, we are so grateful to you and the WBO family for affording us the privilege of being a WBO world champion from the start of his career. We hope in the near future we will once again be afforded the chance to fight for another championship with the WBO. As always, we thank you for your continued support and friendship."
In a highly competitive and exciting fight, Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) rebounded from a sixth-round knockdown -- the first of his career -- to storm back for a 10th-round knockout on a body shot at Madison Square Garden in New York in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card.
The skillful Ukrainian southpaw is expected to return to the ring August 25 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Promoter Bob Arum has mentioned WBO lightweight champion Ray Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs, 1 NC), who’s also promoted by Arum’s Top Rank, as a potential opponent.
Lomachenko became a three-division champion in just his 12th professional bout by beating Linares with a perfectly placed body shot 11 days ago at Madison Square Garden.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist won the WBO junior lightweight championship by knocking out Puerto Rico’s Rocky Martinez in the fifth round of their June 2016 bout in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. He defended that title four times before facing Venezuela’s Linares (44-4, 27 KOs).