Vasyl Lomachenko responds to Mikey Garcia's challenge: 'We can meet at 135'

If you’re a follower Vasyl Lomachenko’s social media accounts, you know just how playful his everyday personality can be. 

The junior lightweight titlist and two-time Olympic gold medalist regularly posts photos of himself training while dressed up in various pop culture costumes, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But as the native of Ukraine prepares for his showdown with Jason Sosa on April 8 on HBO, he becomes very serious when talking about potential fights. 

Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) has heard the recent comments from Mikey Garcia and his response brought out a dead serious tone when asked about the unbeaten lightweight titleholder. If Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) is looking for attention with his words, Lomachenko has an idea. 

“Like a true fighter, I can give you attention and we can come into the ring,” Lomachenko told CBS Sports on Tuesday. 

Garcia, 29, who returned last year from a two-plus year hiatus due to promotional issues, spoke with CBS Sports last week regarding his interest in fighting Lomachenko, who moved up to 130 pounds after he was unable to get the difficult fights he desired at featherweight. 

While Garcia has plenty of respect for him in terms of his in-ring talent, he took issue with the attention Lomachenko received in fights against opponents Garcia had already beaten. 

“He got beat by an experienced, rugged fighter [Orlando Salido] and after that, he has improved a lot,” Garcia said. “He has a lot of credibility. But even at that, he’s only doing stuff that I already did three, four years ago.  

“He couldn’t beat Salido, who I completely dominated. He wins his second world title, a title I had vacated that ends up going back to Rocky Martinez, the guy who I had previously knocked out. Then Vasyl Lomachenko knocks him out and all of a sudden he’s this greatest star because of victories that I already accomplished? Well, I don’t give him credit for that.” 

Lomachenko, who like Garcia is recognized among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, lost a controversial split decision to Salido in just his second pro fight in 2014. Not only did Salido come in overweight, forcing him to give up his featherweight title, he was allowed to foul repeatedly by referee Laurence Cole. 

Garcia, meanwhile, knocked Salido down four times in their 2013 title bout before Salido rallied back. The fight was eventually stopped because of an accidental head butt which broke Garcia’s nose in Round 8, with the judges giving Garcia a victory by technical decision. 

“Let’s talk about that. I read that interview when he was talking about that he destroyed Salido,” Lomachenko said, through interpreter and manager Egis Klimas. “I especially looked at that bout and he got lucky because he broke his nose. After the fourth or fifth round, Salido had already gotten to him and was ready to destroy.” 

The two fighters also share a common opponent in Martinez. Garcia scored an eighth-round knockout in a 2013 junior lightweight title bout while Lomachenko stopped him in five rounds last June, in one of 2016’s best knockouts. 

“If we want to talk about Rocky Martinez, let me ask you: Who was on the floor from Rocky Martinez?” Lomachenko said. “Yes, [Garcia] got a lucky punch and knocked him out in the eighth round, which I did in the fifth round. So we can talk about that as much as we can but if he wants to get my attention and he’s going to be staying at the 135, I’m going to come up at 135 too.

“If, right now, people are talking more about me, with me being the foreigner in this country, and not talking about him, that’s not a problem. We can meet in a few fights to find out who is better.”  

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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