Forget the pleasantries, Vasyl Lomachenko is here to fight

Forget the pleasantries, Vasyl Lomachenko is here to fight
Vasyl Lomachenko defeats Gary Russell Jr. in June.

If you've taken a flight halfway around the world expecting to spend time with a charming boxing champion, it's quickly apparent you opened the wrong door upon a meet-and-greet with Vasyl Lomachenko.

"The most difficult thing about professional fighting is to answer the same questions to media people," the Ukrainian featherweight world champion responded through an interpreter Thursday. "As an amateur, I didn't do that."


Lomachenko (2-1), a former two-time Olympic champion who lost just once in more than 400 amateur bouts, has much going for him, as his June majority decision triumph over Gary Russell Jr. at StubHub Center in Carson showed.

Three pro fights in, his personality leaves something to be desired, however.

Of the victory over the previously unbeaten Russell, he said, "I don't know why you guys were impressed."

Lomachenko will make a mandatory World Boxing Organization title defense Sunday morning (Macao time) on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri HBO pay-per-view card against challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (52-1, 33 knockouts).

"I can't predict what's going to happen," Lomachenko said. "I train for every opponent like an enemy; I'm very careful."

At this point, Lomachenko said he's content continuing to live in eastern Ukraine where his family resides, and says his focus on making a name in the U.S. "doesn't matter … I want a good fight, a strong opponent."

Lomachenko promoter Bob Arum said the fighter "knows that" he needs to fight in the U.S. to maximize his income since he doesn't share the same deep-pocketed adoration of China's national hero, flyweight and two-time Olympic champion Zou Shiming.

Shiming will make $650,000 for a non-title fight Sunday, and is poised with a victory to land a world-title shot Feb. 14 that'll pay him at least $750,000, Arum said.

Lomachenko seeks to unify the featherweight division, and Arum said he's in preliminary talks with H6BO to put Lomachenko and World Boxing Assn. champion Nicholas Walters (25-0, 21 knockouts) against other opponents on the same card to build them toward a summer showdown.

Maybe then Lomachenko will be in a better mood.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire