Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko to face veteran Jonathan Oquendo in pro debut

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

When Zou Shiming, the Chinese flyweight who won Olympic gold medals in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 turned professional earlier this year, the combined record of his first two opponents was 5-2-2.

That is actually pretty fair competition for a fighter a promoter views as a prospect.

But Vasyl Lomachenko, a Ukrainian who also won Olympic gold medals in Beijing and London, is taking a far more aggressive stance. Top Rank made it official on Tuesday when it announced that Lomachenko will make his pro debut against Jonathan Oquendo on Oct. 12 in Las Vegas in a 10-round featherweight bout.

Oquendo is 23-3 with 16 knockouts and has fought several notable opponents, including Juan Manuel Lopez and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.

It's an incredibly daring way for Lomachenko to start his career and is probably the most aggressive pairing for an amateur turning pro since 1956 heavyweight gold medalist Pete Rademacher fought Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title in his pro debut.

Rademacher was knocked down six times by Patterson and stopped with three seconds remaining in the sixth round of a scheduled 15-round bout. Rademacher, who fought veteran Zora Folley in his next fight, knocked Patterson down in the second.

Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti isn't sure what to make of Lomachenko's aggressive requests. But he said some fighters come out of the Olympics far more ready to compete at the professional level than others.

He said Lomachenko was similar to guys like Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Evander Holyfield and Pernell Whitaker from the 1976 and 1984 U.S. Olympic teams in that regard.

"They [Lomchenko and his team] came to us and made it very clear that they wanted to move quickly and that they didn't want to go through a lot of [tune-up] bouts," Moretti said. "I know he's an extremely talented guy, and I understand there is a risk there, but they want to do it and so we're going to give them the chance to see if he can pull it off."

Lomachenko will fight Oquendo on the undercard of the HBO Pay-Per-View show that will be headlined by a welterweight match between Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley Jr.

Top Rank has made a point to sign a slew of the top Olympians from 2012. In addition to Lomachenko and Shiming, Top Rank has also signed highly touted prospects Jose Ramirez, Oscar Valdez and Felix Verdejo, all of whom competed in the 2012 Games in London.

What to Read Next