This Saturday 9th December, Boxing history will be made as Madison Square Garden plays host to the WBO Super Featherweight match up between ‘Hi-Tech’, also know as Vasyl Lomachenko and ‘El Chacal’, otherwise known as Guillermo Rigondeaux. Two Boxing super powers will pit their finest against eachother, Ukraine vs Cuba, the new school techniques of Lomachenko’s flashy training routine vs the old school techniques of the Cubans, this is Rocky IV Rocky vs Ivan Drago and each fighter is a two time Olympic gold medal winner with a combined almost 900 amateur bouts. Both fighters can make a case for being the greatest amateur Boxer in history. Never before has this occured in the squared circle of the professional ranks, for Boxing enthusiasts, this is the cherry on the cake to end a fabulous year of Boxing. We’ve seen Ward battle and beat Kovalev for the second time, there was the much awaited Golovkin vs Canelo and of course, the Heavyweight division finally came alive when Anthony Joshua toppled Wladmir Klitschko, bringing down the iron curtain for the era of the Klitschko brothers. For pure Boxing technique and skill though, there is no better match up than the one we will witness this weekend.
A lot has already been said about the match up. Rigondeaux is moving up two weight divisions to do battle with the naturally bigger Lomachenko, who also holds the advantage in age, Loma is 29 whilst the Cuban according to everyones best guess is 37.
The odds are stacked against Rigondeaux but we’ll have a look at their skills and see if we can come to a prediction about who will come out victorious.
When it comes to speed, as you would expect, the smaller fighters have it in abundance and these two are no exception. Both possess lightning fast hand speed but where they differ is that whereas Lomachenkco is more of a machine gun, firing punch after punch in bunches with excellent variety, Rigondeaux is more like a sniper rifle, delivering quick precise strikes but in less volume than his counterpart.
But it is not just speed of hand they possess, both have great footwork with quick feet, Loma who had a background of dancing as a child often reminds one of the old great Willie Pep with his quick footed moves around the ring, his feet gliding across the ring, he looks completely at ease in the ring and is able to quickly change angles with his tap dancing footwork and pivoting which confounds his opponents. Rigondeaux though is also a master of footwork and his ability to judge distance(often being the shorter fighter in the ring) is second to none. Rigo is a master of rolling under shots and then using footwork to pivot and change the angle, this will be something Lomachenko will have to evaluate because can Loma afford to overuse the cute angles and movements against someone with footwork as good as Rigondeaux?
Edge – Lomachencko
Looking at the numbers, one would say Loma is the more powerful puncher, with 7 of his 9 wins coming by way of KO as compared to Rigodeauxs 11 KO’s from 17 wins but looking at the fights themselves, it is plain to see that Rogondeaux is the one who holds more power and is more capable of delivering that one big shot which can either knock out his opponent at any given moment or change the tone of the fight. Lomachenko is a fighter who will make you ‘punch drunk’, he might hit you 99 times and you won’t think it’s so bad, then he hits you for the 100th time and down you go, the pressure from his high punch workout will eventually wear you down, especially when it is coupled with his sublime footwork. Lomachenko makes you quit beating you more mentally than physically, Rigo though will knock you out. Watch out for Rigo’s straight straight left, that is the punch that can break jaws but will his power carry through two divisions?
Edge – Rigondeaux
You don’t win multiple gold medals and World titles without having a great defence and yet again these two fighters are some of the best in the business when it comes to defence, right now they are probably possess the top two defenses in the sport. Their defense is so good because of their head movement coupled with their quick feet. Whereas Loma’s defense is centered around his footwork and use of angles, Rigo’s is more with his head movement and judgement of distance, able to keep out of range just enough to give him room to work with to counter his opponents shots whenever they try to close the gap.
There are causes for concern, Rigo has been knocked down multiple times in his 17 fight career but never really looked hurt in any knock down, and if he is knocked down you better start worrying because Rigo then ups the pace and decides he is going to blitz you, look at his bout against Hisashi Amagasa for evidence of this. Having tasted the canvas in round 7, Rigondeaux got up and battered Amagasa so badly, he was forced to retire on his stool after round 11.
Loma on the other hand, has also never really been hurt during his pro career but has shown his defence can be penetrated in his last couple of bouts and took some needless punishment, whether this was a case of Loma getting overconfident in the ring remains to be seen Saturday as surely Loma will look to tighten things up against an opponent of Rigo’s ability.
Edge – Rigondeaux
Rigondeaux may possess the knock out power, but his game is not built on attack, Rigo is more of a defensive counter puncher who will land one big shot or string a 2-3 punches together to counter you or when he is sees an opening, Rigondeaux is very precise, accurate and calculated in picking his shots and tries not to waste any. Lomachenko on the other hand is an aggressive fighter, possessing a high work rate and string lots of punches together as he applies pressure on you, Loma is a fighter with a high work rate and high volume puncher.
Rigo has often been labelled as boring with his fights lacking action and it is because of his defensive ability and counter punching style that he has been labelled as such. Loma on the other hand loves to bring the attack to you – from all angles.
Edge – Lomachenko
Vasyl Lomachenko hold most of the advantages here, being taller, bigger and younger than Rigondeaux, but surprisingly it is Rigondeaux who holds the advantage in reach, 68in to 65in. Rigo though is well versed in fighting against bigger men. In 2013 Rigo met Nonito Donaire who on fight night looked noticeably bigger than Rigondeaux, Donaire was a top 5 pound for pound fighter in the World and the Ring 2012 Fighter of the Year. Rigo gave Donaire a Boxing lesson and ended Donaires 12 year unbeaten run. We’ve already mentioned Amagasa, he stood 6.5in taller than Rigondeaux and suffered a terrible beatdown at the hands of Rigo. But one has to remember these fights were all more than a few years ago, Lomachenko has been staying active whereas Rigondeaux has been avoided by pretty much everyone in his division which has meant just two bouts in the past two years, Loma in that span has had 4 fights but these have a combined 28 rounds compared to Rigondeaux’s 3 rounds.
Looking through all of this, all things being equal I would give Rigondeaux the edge to beat Lomachenko, but all things aren’t equal in this fight. A good big ‘un tends to beat a good little ‘un. There are weight classes in Boxing for a reason, sure Rigo could beat bigger Boxers but he’s not facing your standard pro Boxer here, he is facing an opponent who is on the same level as he is for every aspect of boxing. Will Rigos power be enough to hurt someone much bigger than he is? Will Rigondeaux be able to handle the punches of a bigger man who will bring the attack to him and not allow him to be so calculated in his shots, Loma will not afford Rigo the time to sit back and pick his shots but on the flip side, can Loma continue to bring the pressure and his attacking style against someone who is a big hitting counter puncher? My verdict is to follow my heart and go for Rigondeaux to slow the tempo of the fight and make it a chess match of the highest order which probably isn’t what the TV companies want to see, and strangle out a points win. Loma is the golden boy here so Rigo has his work cut out in order to steal the win, I’m picking the smaller man to take this fight but it would not surprise me in the slightest if Loma came out the winner this weekend, it really is that close.
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Writer for the Ringside Report Boxing Author of: (Available for download on Amazon) The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle