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Manager: Vasiliy Lomachenko-Manny Pacquiao fight not happening in spring

Egis Klimas, the manager of pound-for-pound king and junior lightweight world titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko, on Wednesday shot down talk of Lomachenko taking on Manny Pacquiao in the spring. But the fighters' promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, left open the possibility of the bout happening at a later date.

"No, we are not fighting Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao is calling out Lomachenko, who is three weight classes down the scale from him. Manny Pacquiao is 147 pounds and he's calling out Lomachenko, who is 130 pounds. That's insane," Klimas told ESPN.


Klimas added with a laugh: "The next thing you know, you'll have Gennady Golovkin calling out Lomachenko to fight. It would be like [light heavyweight titlist and Klimas client] Sergey Kovalev calling out to fight Manny Pacquiao. It's ridiculous."

Pacquiao said this week that he was in discussions for a fight with Lomachenko, according to a report by ABS-CBN, one of the major television networks in the Philippines, where Pacquiao serves in the senate.

"There are negotiations now about the No. 1 pound-for-pound, which is Lomachenko," Pacquiao said in an interview with ABS-CBN. "There are still talks on the weight, reducing the weight."

Klimas said that it is not true and that it's a fight that doesn't really interest Ukraine's Lomachenko.

"He's an old man and Lomachenko beating him takes him nowhere," Klimas said of Pacquiao. "If the fight happened they'll all say Lomachenko beat an old man and made him come down [in weight]."

Pacquiao (59-7, 38 KOs) turned 39 in December. Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) will turn 30 next month.

"Look, we have our own agenda, our own road and our own plans. That's where we're going," Klimas said. "There's a lot of champions and good guys at 130 or 135 pounds. That's where we're going. Why isn't Pacquiao calling out [Terence] Crawford? Crawford is moving into Pacquiao's weight class. Why doesn't he call out [Mikey] Garcia, who is at 140?"

Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the best amateurs in history, has won world titles in two weight classes and set various records on his way to those accomplishments. On Dec. 9, he easily defeated Guillermo Rigondeaux, making him quit after the sixth round of a one-sided fight. It was the first professional fight between two-time Olympic gold medal winners. Rigondeaux, who held a junior featherweight world title, moved up two weight divisions for the fight.

Klimas said Rigondeaux's rise in weight was not the same as Lomachenko being asked to move up to face Pacquiao, the only fighter in boxing history to win world titles in eight weight divisions.

"The difference is Lomachenko didn't call out Rigondeaux," he said. "Rigondeaux was willing and begging for the fight, so Lomachenko fought Rigondeaux. They had two gold medals each, they were both undefeated, and did that take Lomachenko somewhere? For Team Lomachenko, that fight didn't mean anything. He beat a small guy. Even if he beat Pacquiao, they'd say he beat an old guy who was basically retired. We want to fight active champions dominating their weight classes."

Arum told ESPN that while a Pacquiao-Lomachenko fight certainly won't take place in the spring, the door was open for it to happen down the road, at least after Lomachenko fights his next bout in April.

"We discussed at one point Manny and Lomachenko fighting, but Lomachenko's father [trainer Anatoly Lomachenko] said he didn't want him to jump up two divisions even though the fight would be at a catch weight of 140 pounds," Arum said. "His father said he wanted him to first go up to 135 pounds and then maybe they'd consider a fight with Pacquiao at 140 pounds later.

"The spring would be too premature, but certainly that's a fight that might be attractive down the road."

Arum said an alternative plan for Pacquiao is to fight the winner of the spring fight between welterweight titlist Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) and former undisputed junior welterweight world champion Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), the 2017 ESPN.com fighter of the year. Pacquiao lost his welterweight world title to Horn by controversial decision in July in Horn's hometown of Brisbane, Australia, and Horn is obligated to next face Crawford in a mandatory defense.

But before Pacquiao might find himself in the ring with the Horn-Crawford winner, Arum said Pacquiao needed "a decent fight so he can demonstrate that he still has the ability to fight at the top level, and then we can do a big fight for him at the end of the year."

To that end, Arum said it is possible that Pacquiao could fight on the card with Horn-Crawford, which could take place either April 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York or on April 21 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Arum's preference is Las Vegas, but the date is an issue because of a potential NHL playoff game. He said if the date could be cleared of a playoff game, he would opt for the card in Las Vegas.

Arum declined to get into specifics about how Pacquiao would fight on the same card with Horn-Crawford, acknowledging that "Pacquiao don't fight on undercards."

"The ESPN guys know how to market and present events and they know how this will be handled," Arum said. "It won't be an undercard. It will be something very unique and when we do it, it will be appealing to everybody involved."

Arum said Horn-Crawford is "virtually done. It's not signed yet, but we hope it will be in the next week."

If Pacquiao fights on the same card with Horn-Crawford, the fight would probably go on ESPN PPV, Arum said. If Pacquiao isn't on the card, Horn-Crawford would air on ESPN, Arum said. He said he still needs to work through some particulars with Pacquiao, including an opponent.

"I may have to get on a plane and go to the Philippines," Arum said. "Maybe this weekend."

Author: Dan Rafael, ESPN
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