RingTV.com's Lem Satterfield is reporting word that the WBO has officially made Ukranian Vasyl Lomachenko the mandatory opponent for number-one ranked "Mr." Gary Russell, Jr. of Capitol Heights, MD and the two will compete for the vacant WBO Featherweight championship.
The questions now, of course, are when and where the bout will take place. Those questions might end up having very interesting answers. Russell is associated with Golden Boy Promotions and Lomachenko is promoted by Top Rank. The WBO has said that the two competing promotional companies have 30 days to negotiate a contract for the bout. If no contract comes in that period, the bout would go to a purse bid.
Lomachenko (1-1, one KO) received an opportunity to battle for the WBO in just his second pro bout (although Fight Fax, Inc. lists Lomachenko's record as 7-1 because he received payments for his appearances in the World Series of Boxing) on March 1 when he faced then-champ Orlando Salido in San Antonio, TX. Russell was named the mandatory challenger to Salido in October. However, Salido decided to take a voluntary title defense against Lomachenko.
Salido ended up losing the title on the scales, giving Lomachenko an opportunity to win the vacated title if he won. However, Salido defeated Lomachenko by split decision.
In an interview with Satterfield, Russell (24-0, 14 KO's) wasn't exactly pleased with the WBO's decision on Lomachenko. Here is that interview:
Russell, Jr. Rips WBO Decision