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Must-watch Vasyl Lomachenko defends junior lightweight title against Jason Sosa

Updated April 7, 2017 - 6:50 pm

Vasyl Lomachenko has become a must-watch fighter, and here’s a friendly reminder to set the DVR.

The Ukrainian wizard returns to the ring Saturday to defend his WBO junior lightweight title against Jason Sosa in an HBO-televised main event at the new MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

On paper and in the sports books, this bout is a mismatch, but Lomachenko has developed a reputation for entertaining fans with his high-octane pressure while displaying Matrix-like footwork and combinations. Lomachenko (7-1, five knockouts) is a minus-2,500 favorite, according to VegasInsider.com.

This will be the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s first fight of the year after a breakthrough 2016 when Lomachenko viciously knocked out Roman Martinez and made Nicholas Walters quit on his stool.

Lomachenko has only eight professional fights, but HBO pundits have seen enough to crown him the new pound-for-pound king, and many others have quickly followed.

It’s hard to argue against Lomachenko when the usual suspects haven’t been their usual dominant selves.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez lost a controversial decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai last month, and Gennady Golovkin edged Daniel Jacobs to stay undefeated. Andre Ward defeated Sergey Kovalev in November, but many view the Russian as the true winner.

Lomachenko, however, isn’t ready to crown himself.

“My top three pound-for-pound list is Golovkin, Kovalev and (Terence) Crawford,” Lomachenko said. “I don’t want to be No. 1 until I deserve it. That means fighting and winning against two or three world champions. After that, I may be No. 1, but for sure not now.”

Lomachenko won’t be the only Ukrainian on the card. Fellow countrymen Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Oleksandr Usyk also will be in action during the 7 p.m. tripleheader on HBO.

Usyk will defend his WBO cruiserweight title versus Michael Hunter, a Las Vegas resident. Gvozdyk will face Yunieski Gonzalez.

Sam’s Town card

Cruiserweight WBA champion Beibut Shumenov will meet interim titlist Yunier Dorticos in a main event Premier Boxing Champions card April 29 at Sam’s Town.

The bout will be televised on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes. In the co-main event, featherweight champion Carlos Zambrano faces Claudio Marrero.

“I’ve been in the gym working hard since my last fight,” said Shumenov, a Las Vegas resident. “I have been ready this entire time to defend my belt against anyone who is willing to step up.”

Tickets go on sale Monday and start at $25.

Cinco De Mayo in Vegas

Before Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. collide May 6 at T-Mobile Arena, Golden Boy Promotions will host a card May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Former three-division champion Yuriorkis Gamboa will fight Robinson Castellanos to headline the Golden Boy on ESPN boxing series.

The tripleheader will start after the Alvarez-Chavez Jr. weigh-ins. The weigh-ins are scheduled to start at 2 p.m., followed by the boxing event at 4. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased at axs.com.

“On the eve of the Mexico versus Mexico superfight that is Canelo vs. Chavez Jr., it was only fitting we throw the ultimate fan fiesta on Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas,” said Oscar De La Hoya, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0492. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.

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