When Golden Boy Promotions beat rival Top Rank by a ridiculously slim margin of $2,250 to win the purse bid for the vacant featherweight title bout between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko with an offer of $1,052,000, it thought the purse split would be 50-50.
However, the WBO, the sanctioning body involved, said that Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO) would be due 60 percent of the winning offer ($631,350), with Russell (24-0, 14 KOs) getting 40 percent ($420,900).
The reason is because of a rule the WBO has that clearly states “if the fight is held in the country of origin, residence or nationality of one of the contenders, the resident contestant shall receive 40% and his opponent shall receive 60% of the total purse offered.”
Since Golden Boy intends to stage the bout on June 21 in Carson, Calif. -- Russell’s home country, since he is from Capitol Heights, Md. -- Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, is entitled to the larger share of the purse.
However, Golden Boy appealed that ruling to the WBO, claiming that Lomachenko is a resident of the United States because of an address he lists in Marina Del Rey, Calif. Top Rank, Lomachenko’s promoter, said that he is a resident of Ukraine. The WBO sided with Top Rank and upheld the 60-40 split Thursday.
Now it remains unclear if Russell will still go through with the fight.
Here, in part, is how the WBO explained it in its official ruling:
“As part of the process of reviewing (Golden Boy’s) petition, we reached out to Mr. Egis Klimas, Mr. Lomachenko’s manager, who provided us with a copy of his fighter’s Ukrainian passport, Ukrainian driver’s license and, more importantly, a copy of his P-1 (internationally recognized athlete) Visa,” WBO attorney Luis Batista-Salas wrote in his ruling. “This P-1 classification applies to athletes that are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific competition, at an internationally recognized level of performance. Mr. Lomachenko has not applied for ‘green card’ or permanent resident status in the United States."
“In addition to this, Klimas explained that the Marina Del Rey property alluded to by Golden Boy as a sign of Lomachenko’s residence, is used solely as an address for notifications, such as medical bills, receiving licensing and other relevant documentation. In fact, Klimas stated that not once has Lomachenko spent a night in this unit and that during his two previous training camps, they used various short-term rental properties in different locations. In support of this, we received copies of three lease agreements (two of the properties are in Marina Del Rey, CA, one is in Big Bear Lake, CA, and the other in Playa del Rey, CA) -- all of which identify Mr. Klimas, and not Lomachenko as the lessee and primary temporary occupant.
“In conclusion, having trained in the United States in advance of his two previous boxing contests (which also took place in the United States) does not make Mr. Lomachenko a resident of the United States. Moreover, we take the documentation provided on behalf of Mr. Lomachenko as evidence affirming his status as a citizen and permanent resident of Ukraine, rendering him a contender of foreign ‘origin, residence or nationality’ as per the (WBO rule).
“Now, therefore, according to our regulations, this WBO world championship committee denies Golden Boy’s petition that the purse be divided in equal parts between Russell, Jr. and Lomachenko and further determines that Mr. Lomachenko is entitled to 60% of the purse amount since this championship contest is not taking place in his country of origin, nationality or residence, but that of his opponent.”
Russell has the right to appeal the decision within 10 days, but it’s very clear the WBO is not going to make a change as Lomachenko is indeed a resident of Ukraine.