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Arum frustrated that 1/100 favourite Lomachenko must face Crolla in title defence

The two-time Olympic gold medallist faces Manchester’s ‘Million Dolla’ Crolla on Friday.

Promoter Bob Arum wanted Vasyl Lomachenko to fight in a world-title unification, but injury and the powers that be determined otherwise.
Promoter Bob Arum wanted Vasyl Lomachenko to fight in a world-title unification, but injury and the powers that be determined otherwise.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

PROMOTER BOB ARUM admits Vasyl Lomachenko’s upcoming world-title defence against Anthony Crolla is not the fight Top Rank were hoping to make for the Ukrainian pound-for-pound star.

Lomachenko [12-1, 9KOs] defends his WBA lightweight title at LA’s Staples Center on Friday night against Crolla [34-6-3, 13KOs], the popular former lightweight champion from Manchester.

To most, the bout’s result is a foregone conclusion: Lomachenko is a 1/200 favourite with Betway and a 1/100 favourite with most bookies, while Crolla can be backed as a 20/1 outsider with several outlets.

‘Million Dolla’ Crolla won the belt currently held by Lomachenko in 2015, defending it once before twice being beaten by Jorge Linares — the second time conclusively. Linares, then a pound-for-pound operator in his own right, dropped Lomachenko in a May 2018 thriller before being stopped to the body by the supreme eastern European.

Boxing 2018 - Vasiliy Lomanchenko Defeats Jorge Linares by 11th Round TKO Lomachenko beat Jorge Linares - who had previously dethroned Crolla - to become the WBA World lightweight champion. Source: Joel Plummer

Arum has confirmed that he and Top Rank wanted to make a unification clash between Lomachenko and IBF champ Richard Commey only for Commey to injure his hand when he won his title back in February.

As a result, Lomachenko was forced to either vacate his own title or defend against his mandatory challenger, Crolla, who has scored three unanimous-decision wins since losing to Linares the second time around.

“The fight got shoved up our ass with the mandatory, and thanks to our friend, Eddie Hearn, who thought he’d go to purse bid and have Lomachenko fight at least one time on DAZN,” Arum told BoxingScene.com, claiming Crolla’s promoter Hearn had attempted to put the fight on the streaming platform with which he is affiliated despite Top Rank and Lomachenko’s association with rival broadcaster ESPN.

“We disabused him because we told him that would be the start of a war that they couldn’t win [with ESPN]. And sanity prevailed. We overpaid for Crolla, and that’s what you’re gonna see on Friday night.

“That being said, Crolla, while not the most seasoned guy, is a tough Englishman who was a world champion. And he’s gonna try his ass off to win. It should be an enjoyable fight.

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“But it’s certainly not the fight, given our druthers, that we would’ve made.”

Anthony Crolla File Photo Anthony Crolla believes he's in with a shout of causing one of the biggest upsets in boxing history on Friday. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Crolla, meanwhile, is relishing the opportunity to square off with arguably the best fighter on the planet later this week.

The 32-year-old believes victory for him would be “one of the biggest upsets in boxing history”, and says he’ll do everything in his power to tear up the script LA.

“I’m not over there for the experience — I’m going to shock the world,” Crolla explained. “I believe I can do it. I know how tough it’s going to be but I believe I can do it. Camp’s been brutal at times but that’s the way it should be, I’m looking forward to flying out there.

His last few fights, he’s been hit more than what he has throughout his career. I’ve got to take something from those last two performances, what both Linares and [Jose] Pedraza did, but at the same time I’m a very different fighter to them. I think what I’ve got to do to beat Lomachenko is not let him dictate the pace, which he does for so long, and not get frustrated which he does [to fighters]. I’ve got to fight my own fight and not the fight that Lomachenko wants me to fight, which he’s so good at making his opponents do.

“What he does is tire fighters out,” Crolla continued. “You’ve seen how [Oleksandr] Usyk did it with Tony Bellew. You’re constantly thinking and thinking makes you tired. Physically, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in and that’s the way it should be. I’ve had good notice to fight one of the best fighters on the planet. But it’s going to come down to more than just being a fit lad.

“To become one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, that’s huge, huge motivation for me. So many fighters would love this chance. I’ve earned this chance. I’ll give it absolutely everything to go over there and rip those belts off him.”

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