The Battle of the Olympians: Lomachenko-Rigondeaux
Published: September 15, 2017
The boxing fans have spoken, and the match-up that so many thought would never happen has come to fruition. WBO Super Featherweight (130) champion Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) will defend his title against Super Bantamweight (122) champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) on December 9th. The bout will be shown for all to see on ESPN and will be held at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on December 9th. The demand by fans and pundits alike pushed this fight to take place. The fighters themselves both wanted this fight as a proving ground for the fighter with the highest skillset in the sport.
Lomachenko-Rigondeaux will mark the first time in the sport for two two-time Olympic Gold Medalists to face off professionally. The Ukrainian secured Gold Medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games and amassed a stellar amateur record of 396-1. Rigondeaux who originally hails from Cuba won Gold Medals in 2000 and 2004 with an amateur record of 463-12. Lomachenko as an advantage in age being 29 and Rigondeaux being 36 years old.
In Lomachenko’s last performance he dominated Columbia’s Miguel Marriaga stopping him after seven rounds. With ten official professional bouts under his belt, Lomachenko has been relatively active fighting two to three times per year. The same can’t be said for Rigondeaux who has been inactive fighting just once per year in 2015 and 2016 against lesser competition. Since leaving Top Rank, Rigondeaux has had promotional issues and has been unable to get the other champions in his division to face him. Rigondeaux’s last fight against Moises Flores this past June was ruled a no contest and lasted only one round.
After his fight with Marriaga, a vast amount of pressure was put on Lomachenko to take on better competition. There was much talk about Lomachenko moving up to the lightweight (135) division or facing the other champions at 130-pounds but ultimately the bout with Rigondeaux was seen as something that had to happen now, or it may never happen. Rigondeaux will be the underdog against Lomachenko as he will be moving up two weight classes to face the Ukranian. Lomachenko’s level of activity as an active fighter give him an advantage as well as his pension to throw a larger volume of punches than the Cuban.
Promoter Top Rank is taking a chance by having one of the biggest stars in their stable face a fighter that they used to promote. In April 2013, Rigondeaux put a halt to the Nonito Donaire train by dominating him in a virtuoso performance over 12 rounds. Donaire at the time was of Top Rank's top attractions. Soon after the fight with Donaire, Top Rank gave Rigondeaux the boot and wished him well in his future endeavors. However, unlike Donaire, Lomachenko is more of a complete fighter who can outbox Rigondeaux.
Similar to bouts like Ward-Kovalev and Canelo-Golovkin, Lomachenko-Rigondeaux will put together two of the best in the world pound-for-pound. Lomachenko has the chance to prove that all the accolades that have been thrown at him have been warranted regardless of the number of fights on his record. Rigondeaux will be able to make up for lost time with a victory. A win over Lomachenko has the potential to erase much of the criticism and apathy that has grown over time regarding the Cuban’s career. 2017 has proven to be a momentous year in boxing. Fans have gotten the fights they have asked for and more. Even promoter Bob Arum seems excited to have the opportunity to promote a fight like Lomachenko-Rigondeaux.
While Lomachenko-Rigondeaux may not end up being the most exciting fight or on any lists for fight of the year, its implications on boxing history and its current landscape will be of utmost importance
(Feature Photo: Top Rank Boxing)