Vasiliy Lomachenko vacates jr. lightweight title; Aug. 25 return off

Lomachenko makes history with 'perfect' body shot (2:58)

Vasiliy Lomachenko overcomes being knocked down to finish Jorge Linares in the 10th round, winning a title in his third weight class. (2:58)

Pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko has vacated his junior lightweight world title, opting instead to keep the lightweight world title he won from Jorge Linares on May 12.

Carl Moretti, the vice president of Top Rank, which promotes Lomachenko, sent a letter on Wednesday to WBO president Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel notifying the organization of Lomachenko's decision, which was expected.

"I am writing you on behalf of Team Lomachenko. As you are well aware on May 12 Vasiliy moved up in weight to challenge WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares," Moretti wrote. "As you saw, he was successful in capturing the lightweight title. Vasiliy wishes to continue to campaign in the lightweight division. Therefore, we respectfully relinquish our WBO junior lightweight title so that an opportunity may be given to the ranked contenders to compete for the vacant belt.

"Paco, we are so grateful to you and the WBO family for affording us the privilege of being a WBO world champion from the start of his career. We hope in the near future we will once again be afforded the chance to fight for another championship with the WBO. As always, we thank you for your continued support and friendship."

In a highly competitive and exciting fight, Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) rebounded from a sixth-round knockdown -- the first of his career -- to storm back for a 10th-round knockout on a body shot at Madison Square Garden in New York in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card.

The win gave Lomachenko, 30, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, a world title in his third weight division and the boxing record for winning world titles in three divisions in the fewest number of fights (12). He shattered the record of 20 set by Australian great and International Boxing Hall of Famer Jeff Fenech in 1988.

Lomachenko also is tied for the record for fewest fights needed to win a world title (three) and two world titles (seven).

After the fight, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said that Lomachenko would return to headline another Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card on Aug. 25 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. However, Arum told ESPN that there has been a change of plans and that Lomachenko will not fight this summer. Arum had intended to match Lomachenko in a unification fight with fellow 135-pound titleholder Raymundo Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs), who won a vacant world title in February.

"Lomachenko will not go on Aug. 25, but it's still possible that his next fight will be a unification with Ray," Arum said, adding that after a trip home to Ukraine following the victory against Linares that Lomachenko would return to Southern California on Monday night and will meet with him and manager Egis Klimas next week to discuss his future plans.

"Loma is going to stay at 135 pounds because we believe there are bigger fights and much better competition in that weight class," Klimas told ESPN. "We've been talking about the next fight and maybe unifying with the titles with Beltran but everything is up in the air."

To fill the belt Lomachenko vacated, Puerto Rico's Christopher Diaz (23-0, 15 KOs), 23, and Japan's Masayuki Ito (23-1-1, 12 KOs), 27, the WBO's top-two-rated fighters at 130 pounds, are expected to square off on July 28 on a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card in Kissimmee, Florida, according to Moretti.

Top Rank is in the process of working out a deal with Akihiko Honda of Teiken Promotions that would send Ito to the United States for his first fight outside of Japan. Diaz would be the heavy crowd favorite because of the large Puerto Rican community in Kissimmee and nearby Orlando.