By Steve Kim Updated on October 28, 2022

The Return

Picture for The Return

There's a full schedule of boxing this weekend highlighted by the return of Vasiliy Lomachenko, who faces Jamaine Ortiz from the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on a card that will be streamed on ESPN+.

Not too long ago, there was a bit of a firestorm as Ring Magazine's latest pound-for-pound rankings were released that had the former three-division champion coming in at number six. If you go by overall accomplishments this ranking is understandable. 

But considering that he has only fought just three times since 2019 (losing to Teofimo Lopez, and defeating Masayoshi Nakatani and Richard Commey) and is now 34 years old, it is fair to question if he's still truly among the elite in the sport.

Since that loss to Lopez (which was fought in the Top Rank 'bubble' in October of 2020) he has undergone rotator cuff surgery, then the war being waged in Ukraine derailed plans for him to face George Kambosos for the undisputed lightweight champion in Australia. Instead, Devin Haney got the call and proceeded to beat him twice 'Down Under'.

Picture for The ReturnTop Rank

“For me, it was an easy decision because there was a war in my country,"stated Lomachenko. "There was a war in my hometown. I needed to stay with my family and with our people and defend our country. You don’t think about boxing. You don’t think about your future. You just think about saving your life and saving your family. That’s it.”

Loma on Why He Fought for Ukraine | Battle Lines: Lomachenko | FULL EPISODE


The last time we saw Lomachenko he dominated Commey over 12 rounds back in December. At that point he still looked very much like one of the premiere lightweights in the world. Now he faces Ortiz (16-0-1, 8 KOs), who earned this shot by defeating Jamel Herring in June.

There is plenty of chatter about a possible showdown against Haney next year. But Lomachenko still has to get past Ortiz. He is the prohibitive favorite(20-to-1), but you wonder, just what version of Lomachenko exists in 2022. He was truly one of the great boxers of the past generation. We'll see where he presently stands as he faces a familiar foe.

“Sparring [against Ortiz] is different from competition because our conditioning is not at 100 percent, so Saturday night will be a very interesting fight. I’m focused on my job. I’m focused on my boxing. You can’t stop thinking about your country. It’s always on your mind. But now I’m focused, and I need to be focused because I’m an athlete. After the fight, I’ll go back to Ukraine and support my country.”




Meanwhile in San Diego at the Pechanga (not casino) Arena Golden Boy Promotions has a card that will be broadcast on DAZN that has an interesting lightweight crossroads between veteran Joseph Diaz and upstart William Zepeda.

Diaz (32-2-1, 15 KOs), a former belt-holder at 130, is looking to stay relevant. A loss here and he gets a one-way ticket to Opponentsville. Say this for the former 2012 U.S. Olympian, he has only lost to the likes of Gary Russell (for the WBC featherweight title) and Haney. It takes a really talented guy to beat him at any weight. He is the very definition of 'battle tested'.

Picture for The ReturnTom Hogan, GBP

“I'm always progressing - even my losses, I don't look at them as losses," Diaz explained. "I look at them as lessons learned. Zepeda is one tough gunner, and I know he's hungry for a title shot which will make this an incredible fight for me personally because he's going to come forward and be aggressive."

On the flipside, Zepeda (26-0, 23 KOs) is a fighter still looking to make his mark in the sport, but he has certainly made an impression with his hell-bent-for-leather style. As the old-timers would say: he fights like he's double-parked. From the opening bell, Zepeda comes out winging punches and never relents from his attack. This is a southpaw who is anything but crafty.

After getting 10 rounds of much-needed seasoning versus Rene Alvarado, he faces a seasoned professional, who is technically sound.

If he can stop Diaz -- something that Haney wasn't able to do -- it would be quite the statement.

Picture for The Return             Tom Hogan, GBP

"I was very excited when I got the call for this fight. I've always wanted these types of opportunities. I've trained really hard for this, and this fight won't be the exception. We are very concentrated and focused because we know this is a big opportunity," said Zepeda.

This is a match-up of two Ring rated lightweights (Diaz is sixth, followed by Zepeda at seven). The winner marches towards a title shot at 135, while the loser gets back further in line.



BLK Prime, which opened up a few eyes last week as they announced that they would be broadcasting Terence Crawford's upcoming bout on December 10 against David Avanesyan in Omaha, has now reached an agreement for the services of Adrien Broner.

I'm told more boxers could be in the fold for BLK Prime.

As for Broner, it's not clear just what he has left in the tank at this point. Since the beginning of 2018 he has performed just three times (with a mark of 1-1-1), but he's still an amusing guy. Seriously, his interviews are hilarious.



Top Rank has formally announced their December 10th show from the Garden on Heisman Trophy night on ESPN. The main event will feature Teofimo Lopez against Jose Pedraza in a junior welterweight contest. Personally, I would have preferred Arnold Barboza, but Pedraza is still a respectable foe. 

Picture for The ReturnTop Rank

This undercard will feature a host of Top Rank's blue-chip prospects like Jared Anderson, Keyshawn Davis and Xander Zayas. While Bruce 'Shu Shu' Carrington will appear on the ESPN+ portion of the undercard.



There's another card on DAZN on Saturday afternoon from London that features Katie Taylor defending her lightweight championship against Karen Elizabeth Carbajal...Showtime PPV has the card featuring Jake Paul and Anderson Silva, Not sure what to say about this other than it's happening, and not many people seem to care....The Top Rank/ESPN+ card begins with the undercard action at 6:15 pm, ET/3:15 pm, PT, which features the likes of Troy Isley, Abdullah Mason, Duke Ragan, Richard Torrez and Tiger Johnson....I can be reached at


About Author
The Return
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.