On December 9 at Madison Square Garden, New York a fighter recognized as one of the best boxers in the world despite having just ten professional fights under his belt, Vasyl Lomachenko, will put his world title belt on the line against one of the best pugilists of the lower weight divisions, Guillermo Rigondeaux.
It’s set to be a fight for the ages, with Lomachenko desperate to take on top-class opponents as he continues to soar towards the very top of the pound-for-pound rankings. Rigondeaux will be moving up two weight divisions from junior featherweight to junior lightweight having been the WBA and WBO world champion. Given the hype around Lomachenko, few are giving Rigondeaux a chance in this super fight, but perhaps he’s being underestimated.
The natural underdog
The 37-year-old Guillermo Rigondeaux will be jumping up two divisions in an attempt to add to his 17-0-0 professional record and defeat who many see as the most dangerous boxer in the world right now. The Cuban rocks a stellar amateur record that includes two Olympic gold medals, as does his upcoming opponent, and has been said to have more quality than Lomachenko.
Greatly respected boxing coach Pedro Diaz has lauded Rigondeaux as having “more quality than Lomachenko,” adding that “he’s a better boxer,” according to an interview with Boxing Scene. While he has been training the Cuban for this huge fight, Diaz does have a point. Rigondeaux is one of the greatest talents of recent times; his calm and calculated boxing coupled with his raw power has proven to be devastating in the junior featherweight division.
While Vasyl Lomachenko has impressed with his silky skills, incredibly fast hands, and ability to make boxers want to stop fighting, Rigondeaux will be his toughest opponent yet, deserving of more respect but rated at +350 to give it a go and back the very talented underdog.
Desperate for a challenge
Vasyl Lomachenko has been absurdly impressive during his short professional career so far. The 29-year-old Ukrainian holds a 9-1-0 record, but that by no means tells the whole story. The loss, in his second professional fight, was an extremely contentious split decision against Orlando Salido for the WBO World featherweight title, which he went on to defeat the then-immaculate Gary Russell Jr. to claim in his very next bout.
In his seventh professional outing, Lomachenko spectacularly knocked out Roman Martinez for the WBO World super featherweight strap, with his ensuing three defenses ending via retirement – Nicholas Walters notoriously telling the referee that he didn’t want to carry on after seven rounds of onslaught.
Lethal and explosive, Lomachenko wants to continue his sharp rise to the top by proving himself further against the very best in the world, and Guillermo Rigondeaux accepted to call. To make the fight even more tantalizing by removing the size advantage that Lomachenko could bring, the 130-pound champion has agreed to a weight check on the day, evening the odds for the challenger who’s jumping two flights to compete.
Despite the odds and the hype, this is set to be a far more closely contested bout than many expect, and certainly more so than Lomachenko’s most recent outings. The Ukrainian champ wanted a challenge, and he’ll certainly get one from the Cuban junior featherweight champion.