Peter Wells is back this week to give his Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux predictions ahead of what promises to be an epic fight.
They have transformed from all-time greats in amateur boxing to unstoppable forces in the professionals. Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux have graced a boxing ring so many times, each knows every fibre of the apron beneath their feet like the back of their hands.
They share between them just a handful of defeats in professional and amateur boxing. Loma, the invincible two-time Olympic and World Championship Gold medallist, with a single blemish on his resume in the paid ranks. Rigo, holds slightly more defeats in the unpaid code, but his pro record is untarnished, even inactivity and ring rust have been no match for the Cuban sensation.
Rigondeaux 17-0(11KO’s) too holds a pair of Olympic and World Championship Gold medals, but his rise to the top of this sport has been far from as smooth as his boxing.
His conservative, but brilliant style has been shunned by American broadcasters, and none of his closest handlers have managed to find a route out of it. One still wonders if the future Hall-of-Famer had moved to Britain whether we would be having the same conversation about inactivity.
But the other side of the coin may suggest that the TV blackout is simply a myth to protect other world champions from Super Bantamweight-Super Featherweight who may just be avoiding Rigo.
Bob Arum has certainly offered the cold shoulder to Rigo, ever since the Cuban masterfully out boxed one of his prized assets, Nonito Donaire. Now the Top Rank promoter feels he has the man to better Rigondeaux, but has the wily veteran promoter sold another of his cash-cows down the most complex river in boxing?
There is simply no fighter out there that appears to have the tools needed to oust one of the pound-for-pound best. But Lomachenko 9-1(7KO’s) is no ordinary boxer himself. They are different in ways, but the two are cut from the same cloth, they know the same tricks.
Whether the styles of both is enjoyed by the masses or not, this is without doubt one of the greatest match-ups in boxing history. It is fantasy match making, it’s the ’96 Chicago Bulls against the ’17 Golden State Warriors. It is sporting supremacy at its very best.
Lomachenko has made wins over Jason Sosa, Nicholas Walters, Gary Russell Jr and Roman Martinez look easy. Even a very early career defeat to Orlando Salido cannot smear what has been a professional run that would put many current and former champions to shame.
That defeat holds little significance in this match-up. While Rigo is clean and precise, Salido is the polar opposite. The Mexican used every advantage he could muster to win that fight by the slimmest of margins.
Both have their remarkable legacies on the line on Saturday night, but the feeling is that Rigondeaux has more at stake. Defeat here would give all those that vent their displeasure at his style the opportunity to write him off completely. It would give other champions even greater reason to avoid him, and promoters even less incentive to promote him.
But all this adds a fuel to the fire that surrounds Guillermo. Loma has been offered every opportunity that Rigo has so long craved for. There will be an envy inside of Rigondeaux that may bring out the best in the challenger.
But for all that intent, his biggest challenge may be the size advantage that the more natural Super Featherweight has, come fight night. When the two are so magnificent in many ways, it is the forgotten advantages that count the most.
The early rounds will be cagey, the two have never faced anyone as good as the other. They are both so used to being multiple steps ahead of their opposition, but on this night each man will have a counter for the other already in place.
One still feels that we have yet to see Rigondeaux produce anywhere near his finest work. Saturday night is where we may witness such greatness unfold.
But whichever way this bout goes, greatness will be seen first-hand by everyone watching. Boxing’s finest artwork will be painted all over the ring apron for 12 utterly brilliant rounds.
It will be one for the purists, and many of those students of the finer details will tip the precise work of Rigondeaux to win upon the fights conclusion.
However, Lomachenko will be the aggressor, working away more, even with a far lower connection rate. Every time that Lomachenko slips around the corner and leads off first, the challenger will respond, leading to momentary glimpses of a brawl ensuing. Gasps will be echoed around the arena as Rigo looks to steal rounds with single shots that seem to form from nothing.
One of boxing’s most anticipated fights, will also go down as one of boxing’s hardest to score. If a rematch is what you want then a Rigondeaux victory is what you will be needing to see. And with New York judges, one believes that is exactly what we will get. There will be many unhappy viewers both at home and in the crowd, but Guillermo Rigondeaux will hold on to his unbeaten record and claim a third world title with a split decision victory.