By Ian S Palmer
WBO Super Featherweight Champion Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine will be defending his title against once again this weekend when he faces former world champion and fellow southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. The 12-round bout can be seen live on ESPN in the U.S., on BoxNation in the UK and on TSN 2 in Canada. Lomachenko last fought in August when he stopped Miguel Marriaga after the seventh round while Rigondeaux was last in the ring in June when he fought to a no-contest with Moises Flores. Rigondeaux hit Flores with a punch after the bell had ended the first round and knocked him out.
Lomachenko won the WBO title against Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez of Puerto Rico via a fifth-round stoppage in June, 2016 and is also a former WBO Featherweight Champion. Rigondeaux is a former WBA and WBO Super Bantamweight Champion and the current WBA Super World Super Bantamweight champ. The 29-year-old Lomachenko has a pro record of just 9-1 with 7 Kos, but he’s considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world at the moment. Rigondeaux is also near the top of the pound-for-pound list and has a perfect mark of 17-0 with 11 Kos.
Lomachenko’s lone loss came at the hands of Orlando Salido by a controversial split decision in March of 2014 in his second pro fight. He turned pro in 2013 after winning two Olympic gold medals for his homeland in 2008 and 2012. He had an excellent and extensive amateur career and then won the WBO Featherweight crown against Gary Russell Jr. via a majority decision in June of 2014.Lomachenko defended it against Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Gamalier Rodriguez, and Romulo Koasicha before moving up in weight. The champion possesses fantastic footwork, speed, and accuracy with good power.
In general, Lomachenko tends to break his opponents down with solid combinations and body and head shots. He stands 5-feet-6-inches tall and has a wingspan of 65.5 inches. He’s fought just 87 rounds since turning pro with a current knockout ratio of 70 per cent. Lomachenko has become a more aggressive boxer with each passing fight in the pro ranks and his power is becoming more dominant. However, it may be hard to catch Rigondeaux with clean shots since he’s such a good defensive boxer.
Rigondeaux is now 37-years-old, but is still considered an elite boxer with good power. It may seem his pro career has been wasted with just 17 contests. However, most opponents duck him and he’s also had promotional problems. He’s also a former amateur champion and his excellent defensive skills means he’s not the most exciting boxer around. His biggest pro wins have been over Nonito Donaire, Hishashi Amagasa, Joseph Agbeko, Rico Ramos and Sod Kokietgym. He stands 5-feet-4-inches tall with a reach of 68 inches, so is two inches shorter than Lomachenko, but has a 2.5-inch reach advantage.
The Cuban’s fought 108 rounds since turning pro in 2009 and has a knockout ratio of 61 per cent. Like Lomachenko, he has good power, but neither of them are considered to be knockout artists. Rigondeaux controls the ring in excellent fashion and is quite hard to hit. Fans aren’t usually too thrilled to watch him fight though since he’s been accused of being over cautious, but he’s still stopped 11 of his 17 opponents and five of the last 10. Rigondeaux was an excellent amateur who won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004 as well as seven Cuban titles and a pair of amateur world championships.
This fight could be a bit of a chess match as it features a pair of excellent boxers who both won a pair of gold medals at the Olympics. Lomachenko has youth on his side and has been more active since turning pro. He arguably possesses more power than Rigondeaux, but isn’t quite as good defensively. Both boxers own solid chins, but I think Lomachenko’s naturally more aggressive in the ring and that should lead him to victory.