The WBO on Thursday denied Golden Boy Promotion's appeal for a 50-50 split of the purse for thier vacant 126-pound title bout on June 21 between Maryland-based featherweight Gary Russell Jr. and Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko, ruling that Lomachenko is entitled a favorable 60-40 advantage in accordance with an organization regulation.
Russell has 10 days to appeal the decision, but it appears that he is unlikely to.
"It's not going to affect nothing, because, at the end of the day, we're still going to make more money than them," said Russell, who is managed by powerful advisor, Al Haymon, in an interview with RingTV.com. "We're still taking the fight. It doesn't matter. That's my reaction. I've got a vicious management team, regardless. We're still taking the fight, and his doesn't matter."
On April 18, Golden Boy out-bid rival Top Rank by a mere $2,500 — $1,052,500 to 1,050,000 — for the right to stage Russell-Lomachenko at The StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Citing rule No. 13 in the WBO guidlines pertaining to purse bids for a vacant title, President Paco Valcarcel informed RingTV.com that Lomachenko was to receive $631,350 compared to $420,900 for Russell, career highs for both boxers.
"If the fight is held in the country of origin, residence or nationality of one of the contenders, the resident contestant shall receive 40 percent and his opponent shall receive 60 percent off the total purse offered," reads the WBO rule.
In its appeal, however, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told RingTV.com on Wednesday that he was requesting a 50-50 split based on the grounds that he believed Lomachenko resided in California.
"Golden Boy submitted a BoxRec profile for Mr. Lomachenko, which identifies him as a resident of Marina Del Rey, California," read a report on the WBO's website. "Furthermore, Golden Boy brought to the attention of this WBO World Championship Committee that Mr. Lomachenko also listed the Marina Del Rey, California address as his residence in the documents that he filed in connection with his October 12, 2013 bout in Las Vegas, Nevada and his March 14, 2014 bout in San Antonio, Texas."
Top Rank, on the other hand, stated that Lomachenko lives in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine. Lomachenko's manager, Egis Klimas, supported that assertion, providing the WBO with documents establishing the California residence as a rental property "used solely as an address for notifications, such medical bills, receiving licensing and other relevant documentation."
Klimas also "provided us with a copy of his fighter's Ukrainian Passport, Ukrainian Driver's License and, more importantly, a copy of his P-1 (Internationally Recognized Athlete) Visa," wrote the WBO. "This P-1 classification applies to athletes that are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific competition, at an internationally recognized level of performance. Mr. Lomachenko has not applied for 'green card' or permanent resident status in the United States."
In the end, the WBO's original assertion stands.
"In conclusion, having trained in the United States in advance of his two previous boxing contests (which also took place in the United States) does not make Mr. Lomachenko a resident of the United States. Moreover, we take the documentation provided on behalf of Mr. Lomachenko as evidence affirming his status as a citizen and permanent resident of Ukraine, rendering him a contender of foreign 'origin, residence or nationality' as per the above cited Section 13 of the WBO Regulations for World Championship Contests," wrote the WBO.
"Now, therefore, according to our Regulations, this WBO World Championship Committee denies Golden Boy's petition that the purse be divided in equal parts between Russell, Jr. and Lomachenko and further determines that Mr. Lomachenko is entitled to 60 percent of the purse amount since this championship contest is not taking place in his country of origin, nationality or residence, but that of his opponent."
Schaefer spoke to RingTV.com about the decision.
"Obviously, it is what is and you have to deal with it," said Schaefer. "The show must go on."
A 2008 U.S. Olympian, Russell (he qualified for the team but never competed due to missing the weigh-in) was declared by Valcarcel in October to be the WBO’s mandatory challenger to face then-beltholder Orlando Salido.
The ruling did not preclude Salido from making a voluntary defense against Lomachenko, which he did on March 1. Lomachenko fell by split decision, but Salido lost his belt at the scales after failing to make the 126-pound weight limit.
As a result, the title became vacant.