If you have been even remotely following the international headlines, you are sure to have noticed that the situation in Ukraine has begun to spiral out of control. There has been a political tug of war between embattled president Viktor Yanukovych and former heavyweight champion of the world and opposition leader, Vitali Klitschko. Alarming stories of substantial violence and armed Ukrainian forces using deadly force against civilians have flooded the news wire.
On Saturday night, Ukraine will have the opportunity to turn away from these terrible circumstances for a brief moment in the hopes of watching one of their compatriots make history.
The co-feature of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera II (Saturday 9 p.m. ET, HBO) is a featherweight world title bout featuring Ukrainian two-time olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko (1-0, 1 KO). Lomachenko will be facing off against the very real and 55-fight veteran champion, Orlando Salido (40-12-2, 28 KO).
Lomachenko will be fighting for his first world title in only his second professional bout, a feat never done before. The Ukrainian may not be professionally deserving of the bout considering he has only been in the ring for a total of 11:59 seconds and has a record of only one bout, but those numbers are a bit misleading. Lomachenko is arguably the most decorated amateur boxer of all time. In addition to the two olympic gold medals, he had an amateur record of 396-1, avenging the long loss twice. He is extremely developed technically, and he is about as fine-tuned as you can get at 25.
Then there is Salido, who like most Mexican fighters is no walk in the park. His record is also a bit deceiving, having collected eight of his losses before his 22nd birthday. Now 33, he is the current WBO and former IBF featherweight titleholder. Salido has expressed that he does not feel respected being matched up against a fighter with only one professional bout, but regardless of how Salido, feels he has no normal task in front of him. Even after a professional career spanning over 18 years, this may be his stiffest test to date.
Throughout history, sport has had this beautiful ability to temporarily ease tensions between conflicting parties, countries and individuals. On Saturday, Ukraine will have the opportunity for a brief respite.