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WBC offers Vasiliy Lomachenko a chance to win third lightweight belt

Vasiliy Lomachenko v Anthony Crolla
Vasiliy Lomachenko celebrates after defending his WBA/WBO lightweight titles against Anthony Crolla on April 12 at Staples Center.
(Yong Teck Lim / Getty Images)

Vasiliy Lomachenko took a large step toward his dream of completely unifying the lightweight division Tuesday when the World Boxing Council ordered the two-belt champion to fight top-rated Luke Campbell for its vacant belt.

Ukraine’s Lomachenko (13-1, 10 knockouts) already wears the World Boxing Assn. and World Boxing Organization belts, which he successfully defended last month at Staples Center by knocking out England’s Anthony Crolla in the fourth round.

Now, Lomachenko is expected to venture to England to meet Campbell (20-2, 16 KOs) in a late-August or September date, Lomachenko promoter Bob Arum told the Los Angeles Times.

“I’ve already talked to [Campbell promoter] Eddie Hearn and he’s looking for an appropriate venue in the U.K.,” Arum said, describing Lomachenko as pleased with the WBC ruling. “I know that’s what he wanted.”

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There was some posturing by Hearn to press the WBC to name Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev as Campbell’s foe due to his standing in the WBC ratings, but Lomachenko petitioned the WBC Board of Governors to follow its rules that allow for the discretion to install another world champion in the division in the mandatory title spot.

In a news release Tuesday, the WBC announced that it had accepted Lomachenko’s petition following four-division champion Mikey Garcia’s decision to vacate the belt after fighting as a welterweight and losing to unbeaten champion Errol Spence Jr. in March.

“I can’t say I agree with the WBC’s decision, but @luke11campbell v Loma is on and likely for the UK! Two Olympic champs and I believe Luke can do it!” Hearn tweeted.

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Campbell will be a sizable underdog against Lomachenko, ranked as the No. 2 pound-for-pound boxer in the world by The Times.

Meanwhile, after the WBC proposed a four-fighter tournament to create a mandatory challenger for Campbell-Lomachenko by requesting bouts between Abdullaev and unbeaten prospect Devin Haney of Las Vegas and unbeaten prospect Teofimo Lopez versus Javier Fortuna, Arum said Lopez was not participating.

Instead, Arum said, Lopez will meet Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani, the International Boxing Federation’s top-ranked contender, in a July 20 eliminator that would position Lopez for a likely title shot at current champion Richard Commey in the fall.

That would set up Lomachenko to pursue the fourth and final lightweight belt following the Super Bowl in February, Arum said.

“We’re trying to bring some sanity to this thing,” said Arum.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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