WBO President Paco Valcarcel has declared that Golden Boy and Top Rank have 30 days to negotiate a featherweight fight between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko for the vacant title, he informed RingTV.com on Thursday.
Valcarcel announced the decision rendered by the WBO's championship committee on his Twitter account.
In an earlier interview with RingTV.com, Valcarcel stated that "the title fight will take place within three months, so we're talking about no later than July."
Since Russell and Lomachenko are represented by rival promoters Golden Boy and Top Rank, Valcarcel acknowledged during an earlier interview with RingTV.com that negotiations for a potential meeting between the two is likely to go to purse bid.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said that he would adhere to the mandate.
“If those are the rules, then those are the rules…That’s no big deal,” said Arum, during a phone conversation from Puerto Rico on Thursday. “If we can’t reach an agreement, then we’ll go to purse bid. That’s what it’s designed for. Golden Boy and ourselves have done a number of fights that way, after either we or they won on purse bid.”
Although Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer could not be reached for an immediate comment, he said the same during an interview in October.
“If it can’t get done, then it will have to go to purse bid,” said Schaefer. “I think that’s fantastic and I think that Gary is definitely up to the challenge.”
A 2008 U.S. Olympian [Russell qualified for the team but never competed due to missing the weigh-in] who is coming off a knockout of Miguel Tamayo in January, Russell (24-0, 14 KOs) was declared by Valcarcel in October to be the organization’s mandatory challenger to face then-beltholder Orlando Salido.
The ruling did not preclude Salido from making a voluntary defense against Lomachenko, 26, which he did on March 1. Lomachenko fell by split-decision to Salido, who lost his WBO belt at the scales after failing to make the 126-pound weigh-in limit.
As a result of Salido's failure, the title became vacant, though Lomachenko was eligible to win it if he had been victorious.
Lomachenko had said that he wanted to make history by becoming a titleholder in what was being billed as his second professional fight. According to Fight Fax Inc., Lomachenko is actually 7-1 because he was paid to take part in six World Series of Boxing fights.
Below is official resolution of The WBO's World Championship Committee:
On March 1, 2014 Mexico’s Orlando Salido faced two-time Olympic gold medalist and #5 WBO Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine in a featherweight bout at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Salido weighed in at 128 ¼ pounds, well over the 126-pound limit for what was supposed to be his first title defense against Lomachenko, thus losing his WBO Feather-weight Championship of the World on the scale.
Prior to the Lomachenko fight with then WBO Champion Salido, we had ordered the winner to face Gary Russell, Jr. of the United States. However, the title remained vacant after Salido won what has been billed by many as a controversial twelve round split decision due to repeated low blows landed by Salido on Lomachenko during the fight that went unpenalized by Referee Laurence Cole.
Judges Jack Reiss and Oren Shellenberger gave Salido (41-12-2, 28 KOs) winning scores of 116-112 and 115-113, while Judge Levi Martinez scored the fight 115-113 for Lomachenko (1-1-0, 1 KO), in what was undoubtedly a very competitive and physical fight.
Now, therefore, according to our Regulations, this WBO World Championship Committee determines without entering into the merits of the discussion over Cole’s performance as third man in the ring and after carefully considering the records of wins and losses and caliber of opponents of the current top contenders in the WBO Featherweight Division, that:
1. None of the Top 5 contenders in the WBO Featherweight Division- with the exception of Gary Russell, Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko- has faced an opponent classified by the WBO.
2. Gary Russell, Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko are the two Best Classified Contenders Available and are as such ordered to fight for the WBO Featherweight Championship of the World.
3. The parties shall be granted a period not to exceed thirty (30) days to negotiate a contract for the vacant WBO Featherweight Championship of the World.
4. If an accord is not reached within the time frame, a Purse Bid will be ordered.
5. The WBO President may, upon the request from either contestant order a purse bid to be held not earlier than ten (10) days from the date of the request, without utilizing the thirty (30) day period for negotiations.