(Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 9 with comment from FightFax representative)
LAS VEGAS -- In every bit of media and marketing material produced for Saturday's Top Rank-promoted pay-per-view boxing card at the Thomas & Mack Center, it is noted that two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko will make his professional debut.
Lomachenko is no ordinary amateur turning pro, either. He's one of the greatest amateur boxers ever and was pursued by every major promoter. He's perceived to be so advanced that on Saturday, he's going to appear on the pay-per-view portion of the card against veteran Jose "Negro" Ramirez, who is 24-2-2 with 15 knockouts.
It's significant when a boxer making his pro debut faces such high-level competition so quickly. Andre Ward, the last American male to win an Olympic boxing gold medal, debuted as a pro in 2004 against Chris Kost, who was 2-0 at the time.
Floyd Mayweather, the sport's greatest active fighter, won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics, but when he turned pro later that year, his opponent, Roberto Apodaca, was also making his debut.
That's just a little of the evidence that indicates it's a big deal for Lomachenko to be in so tough so quickly in his career. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum can't stop raving about him.
However, this being boxing, there is always a but. In this case, the but involves the stance of FightFax, the sport's official record-keeper.
FightFax lists Lomachenko at 6-0, with all six victories coming by decision. He defeated Samuel Maxwell on Jan. 11, Charley Suarez on Feb. 8, Maxwell again on March 1, Albert Selimov via split decision on March 30, Domenico Valentino on April 19 and Samat Bashenov on May 10. All bouts were five-rounders.
Anibal Miramontes said the fights are without question pro matches. He said for the fights that were held in the U.S., they were under the supervision of the relevant state athletic commission and were monitored by the Association of Boxing Commissions.
"The question about this is not whether these are pro fights, but why they wouldn't be considered pro fights," Miramontes said. "The fights are paid. There are no headgear. There are three judges and a referee. From 154 [pounds] and up, they wear 10-ounce gloves. From 154 and down, it's eight-ounce gloves. How is that not a professional fight? Without question, it is a pro fight.
"I understand what Arum is doing. This is all about p.r. It looks better to say he's making his pro debut, because then he could be fighting for the title in his second or third pro fight. I have a good relationship with Arum and with Top Rank and if it were me, I would be doing the same thing as he's doing. But my job is to keep fair and accurate records and to do that, I have to count those fights because they are professional fights."
Competing in the World Series of Boxing impacted the records of many 2012 Olympians, including American Joseph Diaz Jr. and Raushee Warren, Mexican Oscar Valdez and Lomachenko.
Now, AIBA has created a professional league and refers to the World Series as "semi-pro." Still, FightFax hasn't changed its stance, and counts them as pro fights. So, according to Top Rank, Lomachenko is 0-0, while FightFax believes he's 6-0.
Arum, though, said it matters little.
"Who cares, really" Arum said. "FightFax is the only one that considers that pro competition. It doesn't make a difference."
Lomachenko, who won nearly 400 amateur bouts, hopes to fight for a world title soon, and it could be in his next outing, depending upon how good he looks against Ramirez. Whether that becomes a record will, in large part, be determined by how the issue is resolved with FightFax.
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- Vasyl Lomachenko
- Bob Arum