By Patrick McHugh: Despite coming into tonight’s fight as the challenger, Vasyl Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) will be receiving the lion’s share of the purse in his bout against WBO super featherweight champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) on HBO Boxing After Dark at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lomachenko will be getting a purse of $850,000 as the challenger. Martinez, 33, will be receiving half as much at $425,000, according to Dan Rafael.
The co-feature bout between WBO Latino lightweight champion Felix Verdejo (21-0, 14 KOs) and Juan Jose Martinez (25-2, 17 KOs) will see a similar disparity. Verdejo is getting $125,000 compared to $15,000 for the 29-year-old Martinez.
“Purses for Lomachenko-Martinez card: Martinez $425k, Lomachenko $850k, Verdejo $125k, Martinez $15k. #boxing,” said Rafael on his Twitter.
It’s not news that the 28-year-old Lomachenko is getting a bigger purse than Martinez because their promoter 84-year-old Bob Arum of Top Rank is very high on the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine. Arum sees great things from Lomachenko, although it’s doubtful whether he’ll ever become a big star in the United States like unbeaten middleweight world champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
Lomachenko doesn’t like to get hit, so he’s not going to be looking to wade into the fray in his fights the way that Golovkin, Orlando Salido or Francisco Vargas typically do in their fights. Lomachenko’s fighting style is more like that of Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the way that he focuses on delivering his shots and then getting away before his opponent can hit him.
For that reason, Lomachenko’s tend to be forgettable rather memorable. He’s not someone that will likely become a pay-per-view attraction during his career because of his defensive game, and his lack of big punching power. Arum wants Lomachenko to have a great career and leave a mark in the sport before he retires.
Lomachenko is a tad more aggressive than WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, and that’s a bad thing. Rigondeaux is a great fighter, but unfortunately he doesn’t have a huge fan base like Mayweather had. The boxing world seems to appreciate offensive fighters that are willing to go out on their shield by slugging the moment they get into the ring. Rigondeaux and Lomachenko, both two-time Olympic gold medalists, are a different breed of fighter. They do not want to get hit. Their main focus is to win the fight first. If they can get a knockout along the way, then it’s fine but they’re not going to put their chins on the line just to try and entertain the boxing fans.
Even though he’s not a knockout artist, Lomachenko still has a good percentage of KOs in his short three-year pro career. He’s not faced any really good fighters yet other than Gary Russell Jr. and Orlando Salido, neither of which he was able to knockout. Salido beat Lomachenko by a 12 round decision, but wasn’t given much credit from many boxing fans because he had a weight advantage over him.
“Are they denigrating him because he’s like Rigondeaux? That may be. But (Lomachenko is) an artist. It’s my job to get people to appreciate the art-form,” said Arum to ringtv.com. “It may very well be that it may never translate to fans,” Arum said. “But I don’t care because the body of work that he will leave will be a body of work that will recognize him as a great fighter. I don’t know if I can ever sell him like a big pay-per-view guy. I don’t know. And he understands that. But I know that I’ll create a body of work for him so that when he finally hangs it up, people will say that he’s one of the great fighters of all time.”
Arum will be looking to continue to put Lomachenko in the best possible fights moving forward. If he can get past Martinez tonight, Arum will look to match Lomachenko back up against Salido, who is coming off an exciting fight against WBC super featherweight champion Francisco Vargas earlier this month on June 4. The fight resulted in a 12 round draw, but the fans appreciated the effort the two brawlers put in.
Lomachenko wants to avenge his 12 round decision loss to Salido from 2014. It’s a fight that would likely bring in great ratings for HBO if they can get the fight on their network. Arum and Lomachenko have competition for Salido, as Vargas wants a rematch against him. Salido will go in whatever direction that pays the most money. Arum promotes these fighters, so it will ultimately fall on him which direction he wants to go in. If he wants Salido badly enough for Lomachenko, then all he needs to do is come up with enough money to make the fight happen.