WBA/WBO lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko felt right at home at the Ukrainian Culture Center, site of Tuesday’s media workout. Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs) won a pair of Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012) for his native Ukraine.
For the first time as a professional, Lomachenko will headline a STAPLES Center card, a short drive from his United States training base in Ventura County.
Lomachenko will defend his world titles against the hard-charging Anthony Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KOs), while longtime WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (39-0, 25 KOs) will dip his toe in the light heavyweight waters versus veteran Tommy Karpency (29-6-1, 18 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature.
Lomachenko-Crolla and Ramirez-Karpency will stream exclusively Friday, April 12 at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on ESPN+ — the leading multi-sport streaming service.
The undercard broadcast (ESPN+, 8 p.m. EST) will feature unbeaten 140-pound contender Arnold Barboza Jr. (20-0, 7 KOs) against former world champion Mike Alvarado (40-4, 28 KOs) in a 10-rounder and welterweight contender Alexander Besputin (12-0, 9 KOs) versus Alfredo Blanco (20-7, 11 KOs) in a 10-rounder for Besputin’s USBA belt. Besputin is ranked No. 1 in the world by the WBA.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Matchroom Boxing USA, tickets priced at $310.50, $207, $103.50, $77.65, $51.75 and $25.90 (including facility fees) are available now and can be purchased by visiting AXS.com.
Days before taking center stage at STAPLES Center, this is what the undercard fighters had to say:
Arnold Barboza Jr.
“This is a great fight for me on a great stage like the STAPLES Center and against a warrior like Mike Alvarado. He is a great fighter, but I come well prepared and ready to win this fight.”
“We accepted this fight because I want to show the world that I am ready for the big fights. I want to show that I am ready to fight for a world title. I want to face the guy from Fresno. I want to take the title from Jose Ramirez or Maurice Hooker”.
On the irony of being the veteran fighting the young contender
“I was thinking about that the other day. I was fighting Cesar Bazan on the Margarito-Cotto 1 undercard in Las Vegas. I was like, “This guy is hungry.’ I knew then and there that I have to be more focused and dial in with my technique.”
On what he expects from Barboza
“He’s going to try and be real crafty and slick and whatnot. He’s going to have to put on his goggles because we’re going into deep waters. I’m going to bring in a different type of tactic, a whole different type of technique along with relentless pressure.”
On returning to a big stage near the top of the bill
“It means a lot. I know in my heart that I’m ready for it. I deserve it. I’ve won six in a row, and I’ve earned my way back to this level. This fight will solidify that I’m ready to be a world champion again.”
“I am the WBA’s top contender, and I want a title shot soon. This is a great opportunity for me on a big card to show everyone why I am a top welterweight. After I win this fight, I want all the big names. The time for me is now.”
“I am not overlooking Alfredo Blanco. He has won four fights in a row and views me as his shot to earn a top world ranking.”
“I hope to see my Russian fans at STAPLES Center on Friday. It’s been a long time since I’ve fought in Los Angeles. Los Angeles has some of the greatest fans in the world, and I want to put on a show for them.”