Vasiliy Lomachenko returns to the ring for the first time since his December victory over Richard Commey, facing Jamaine Ortiz in the main event of a Top Rank boxing card at the Hulu Theater inside New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday (ESPN+, 6:25 p.m. ET).
Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs), 34, a two-time gold Olympic medalist and former unified lightweight champion, was scheduled to face George Kambosos Jr. in June for the lightweight championship, but Lomachenko decided to turn down the fight to stay with his family when Russia invaded his home country of Ukraine in February. Lomachenko joined a territorial defense battalion in Ukraine until August, when he returned to the U.S. to resume his boxing career.
Ortiz (16-0-1, 8 KOs), 26, of Worcester, Massachusetts, defeated former champion Jamel Herring in Las Vegas in May.
In Glendale, Arizona, at the Gila River Arena, YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul takes on former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in an eight-round cruiserweight bout in the main event of a card that also includes former NFL running back Le’Veon Bell against UFC veteran Uriah Hall in a light heavyweight fight.
Paul (5-0, 4 KOs), 25, of Cleveland, is coming off an impressive TKO victory over Tyron Woodley in December. After failed attempts to face Tommy Fury and Hasim Rahman Jr. earlier this year, Paul picked MMA legend Silva as his next opponent.
Silva (3-1, 2 KOs), 47, of Brazil, defeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June 2021 and stopped former UFC light heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz a year ago in boxing matches.
Stay here for live results and analysis from Mike Coppinger and Marc Raimondi.
Fight in progress in Arizona: Le’Veon Bell vs. Uriah Hall, 4 rounds, cruiserweights
Fight in progress in New York: Richard Torrez Jr. vs. Ahmed Hefny, 6 rounds, heavyweights
Duke Ragan def. Luis Lebron by unanimous decision
Fight recap coming up…
In Arizona: Avila defeats ‘Dr. Mike’ by unanimous decision
After Mikhail Varshavski, the famous YouTuber nicknamed “Dr. Mike,” had some early success, it was basically one-way traffic.
Avila, a longtime member of Nate Diaz’s team, used big overhands and left hook counters to handily defeat Varshavski via unanimous decision (40-36, 40-36, 40-36) in a four-round bout to open the pay-per-view portion of the card. Diaz was watching from a ringside seat.
Varshavski, who has tens of millions of subscribers across social media channels, was making his pro boxing debut and has been touted as the only influencer other than Jake Paul to take the plunge in boxing against an opponent who was already a pro boxer. Avila, who has fought MMA in both the UFC and Bellator, moved to 2-1 as a pro boxer.
In the closing seconds, Avila rocked Varshavski with combinations and was close to finishing the fight, but Varshavski was saved by the bell.
Varshavski, 32, will donate his fight purse to the Harlem Boys & Girls Club. Avila, 29, was wearing “Real Fight Inc.” on his shorts, signifying that he is the first fighter signed to Diaz’s new promotional company which is on its way to being officially licensed.
“Any UFC fighters out there, get out of your contract and come get yourself some real s—,” Avila said in his postfight interview.
In New York: Nico Ali Walsh wins again
Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, continued his development with a unanimous-decision victory over Billy Wagner in a six-round middleweight bout.
Ali Walsh went the distance for the second time in his career with the victory via scores of 58-56, 58-56 and 59-55.
Ali Walsh (7-0, 5 KOs) landed a number of hard shots — particularly the right hand — that bloodied Wagner throughout. However, Ali Walsh also absorbed a bundle of power punches in return during the fight.
The 22-year-old Ali Walsh, who fights out of Las Vegas, ends his 2022 campaign with four victories. Wagner (5-3, 1 KO), a 29-year-old from Montana, lost for the second time in four fights.
In New York: Tiger Johnson shines in win over Esteban Garcia
Johnson, an Olympian from Cleveland, impressed once again with smooth boxing and precise counterpunching in a shutout decision victory over Garcia.
All three judges scored the junior welterweight bout identically: 60-54.
Johnson (6-0, 4 KOs) used his educated jab to set up his power shots and controlled the action from start to finish. The 24-year-old prospect was rated No. 25 on ESPN’s list of the top boxers under 25.
Garcia (15-2, 7 KOs) has now lost two of his last three bouts. — Coppinger
In New York: Troy Isley outpoints Quincy LaVallais to stay unbeaten
Isley, an Olympian from Washington D.C., remained undefeated with a unanimous-decision victory over LaVallais in an eight-round middleweight bout.
One judge scored the bout 79-73 to go along with shutout scores of 80-72 and 80-72.
The fight proved to be a valuable experience for Isley, who was forced to go the eight-round distance for the first time. LaVallais, a 29-year-old from Louisiana, suffered a decision loss to another Top Rank prospect, Xander Zayas, in March. LaVallais (14-4-1, 9 KOs) won two straight fights since the setback and showed to be a durable opponent for Isley.
He stood in the pocket and traded with Isley, but the 24-year-old racked up points with his superior strength and shot placement. Isley improved to 8-0 with four knockouts. — Coppinger
In Arizona: Shadasia Green stops Ogleidis Suarez in Round 5
Green dominated the fight with her pressure and hard punching combinations, forcing Suarez to not come out for the sixth round.
While Green didn’t do a ton of damage, she landed hard right hands and started working the body ferociously in the fifth round. The official result was TKO at 2:00 of the fifth.
Green (11-0, 10 KOs), a 33-year-old New Jersey native, has stopped her last eight opponents. Suarez (30-5-1), a 35-year-old Venezuelan fighter, has now dropped two of her last three fights. — Raimondi
Still to come:
In New York:
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jamaine Ortiz, 12 rounds, lightweights
Robeisy Ramirez vs. Jose Matias Romero, 10 rounds, featherweights