Promoters, ESPN working toward compromise for Lomachenko-Linares fight on May 12

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares is currently one of the best fights that can be made in boxing. (Getty)

There is optimism within the camps of both WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares and WBO super featherweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko that they still can meet at New York’s Madison Square Garden on May 12.

Yahoo Sports reported on Feb. 15 that the bout was in jeopardy because Top Rank, which promotes Lomachenko, was insistent it be held May 12 on ESPN, and Golden Boy, which promotes Linares, said it could not do that.

Golden Boy has an HBO show on May 12 and said it could put the Lomachenko-Linares fight on HBO as a co-promotion with Top Rank on that day or would do the fight on ESPN on any date other than May 12.

Golden Boy president Eric Gomez said a compromise is being discussed which would keep the fight on May 12 on ESPN, but which would not interfere with its May 12 show on HBO.

“It’s not easy to get those dates and they’re like gold, so you just don’t want to give them up,” Gomez said. “But we want this fight very badly and we’ve worked to try to find a way to make it happen.”

The sides have discussed with ESPN the possibility of the Linares-Lomachenko fight being moved up earlier so that it would be off the air by the time the Golden Boy show came on HBO. That way, neither would conflict with the other and fans would be able to watch both.

Top Rank president Todd duBoef said he is hopeful of a satisfactory resolution.

Gomez said he was excited when ESPN executives said they were open to the possibility of moving the start time of the boxing show so that it would not interfere with the start of the HBO show.

“We have a relationship with ESPN, as well,” Gomez said. “We work with ESPN. We have a contract with ESPN and this is a possible solution. If they move up the fight, then it works for everyone and it’s the best possible outcome. They’re considering it, so we’re hopeful. They’re definitely considering it so that would be great. We really want this fight and we’re doing whatever we can.”

The fight is one of the best that can be made in boxing. Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and is regarded as the best by some. Top Rank founder Bob Arum has said Lomachenko is the greatest talent he’s seen since a prime Muhammad Ali.

Linares is 44-3 with 27 knockouts and coming off a wide victory over Mercito Gesta.

“Of course, Lomachenko is one of the great fighters and Linares is a legendary champion,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said. “A fight like that will be of great interest to the boxing fans everywhere. You have to do everything you can do to make that fight. It’s a matter of understanding we in boxing need to give the public the best fights and everybody, the promoters, us, the fighters, need to work together to do that.”

Yahoo Sports reached out to ESPN for comment but did not receive a response.

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