What can you say other than he did what he was supposed to do and you look forward to seeing him down the road in a more competitive fight? Yes, Vasyl Lomachenko 10-1 (9) dominated Guillermo Rigondeaux 17-1 (11) so thoroughly that Rigo refused to come out for the seventh round. That’s pretty impressive when you think about it. But in watching the fight it only took until about the halfway point of the first round to deduce the alley cat had too much of everything for the church mouse.
Lomachenko was too big and electric for Rigondeaux to do anything but try and wait for the opportune time to let loose with something that might give Lomachenko a little trepidation, but it wasn’t to be. With Rigondeaux holding like he never had before, it was painfully obvious that Lomachenko was too strong and too elusive for him and he knew if he engaged he’d eventually be stopped and likely humiliated.
Lomachenko was in a no-win situation. Beat Rigondeaux easy like he did and guys like me say that’s what you were supposed to do. On the other hand, if the bout goes the distance or is closely contested, then the narrative becomes Lomachenko couldn’t push an old man two weight divisions beneath him off the cliff.
On the morning of the fight Lomachenko weighed 137 and Rigondeaux weighed 130, meaning Rigondeaux was fighting at or slightly above his natural walking around weight. For those who don’t think that’s a big deal, let’s see Terence Crawford, who fought Julius Indongo in his last junior welterweight defense, meet Lomachenko at the same weight Vasyl scaled for Rigondeaux. Call it a hunch but something tells me Crawford is the alley cat on that block.
In all honesty, Lomachenko-Rigondeaux was one of the easiest big fights in a long time to predict the winner. The over the top fandom for Vasyl Lomachenko in every move he makes is a little premature for me, but I can’t dispute he’s truly special, a once in a generation fighter, and I get the rush to make him the face of boxing. However, I can’t elevate him for beating a significantly smaller man. If you want to tilt a fight in favor of one fighter over another…….have the smaller fighter spot his opponent almost a decade in age when the older fighter is 40 or crowding it!
There was never a chance Rigondeaux was going to beat Lomachenko, and that had much to do with why the fight came to fruition. Boxing needs star fighters to maintain the terrific headwind it caught in 2017. Prior to Lomachenko fighting Rigondeaux, IBF/WBA heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua 20-0 (20) and middleweight belt holder Canelo Alvarez 49-1-2 (34) were boxing’s two signature fighters. Joshua occupies the spot among the big guys, Canelo is in the middle, and now Lomachenko is the star among the fighters below lightweight which pretty much covers the spectrum.
For the past couple years prior to facing Lomachenko, Rigondeaux seemed to be seven days out from being a week-old ghost that nobody cared about. Guillermo needed a big fight and name opponent to make the type money most fighters of his skill-set make, but he really had no takers. Therefore he was willing to sell his “0” and meet Lomachenko above his optimum weight and the result, at least in this corner, was never in question. As a result of Lomachenko basically dismantling a fighter as gifted as Rigondeaux, those who want to push him as being the overall best fighter in boxing now believe they have a solid foundation on which to unpack their case…..but not everyone sees it that way. In beating Rigondeaux as conclusively as he did, the reality is that Lomachenko, a 3-1 favorite on the morning of the fight, did what he was expected to do and, more significantly, what he should’ve done. All due props to him for doing it with substance and flair.
I believe that Terence Crawford — and maybe only Crawford — is a more formidable, sound and versatile fighter than Lomachenko, but I’ll concede Lomachenko is better eye candy. Moreover, the pound for pound list is pure conjecture, that’s why I state it as “boxing’s best and most complete fighter.” Ask yourself this: with Crawford being about the same dimensions bigger than Lomachenko as Lomachenko held over Rigondeaux…….if Crawford beat up Lomachenko bringing the same weight pull to the ring on the night of the fight – would you then rank Crawford as the greatest active fighter in boxing? Of course you wouldn’t, and that’s exactly why I cannot elevate Lomachenko any higher than I saw him before the fight against Rigondeaux.
For those who believe size and physical strength had no bearing on the outcome, I find that interesting. I never once saw Rigondeaux hold or shudder when he got hit in any previous fight, like he did against Lomachenko who was the biggest opponent he ever met. Conversely, I never saw any other opponent of Lomachenko’s react the same way Rigondeaux did after being touched by him, and he hit Jason Sosa in his last fight much harder. If you believe size and physicality had no role or only a minor one pertaining to the way Rigondeaux reacted and lost his nerve to try and fight back, you’re wrong.
Granted, Lomachenko’s skill and speed played a part in the end result. However, without the overload of physicality and strength on his part the fight wouldn’t have unfolded the same way….strength and weight made everything else more effective than it was against any of Lomachenko’s previous opponents. And the only coincidence is this was the first time Lomachenko fought a fighter who was profoundly smaller than he.
Vasyl Lomachenko is new and he’s different and he can fight. He also, to his credit, admitted after the fight that Rigondeaux was too small to be competitive with him….I’d say he qualifies as “The” authority on that. If you view Lomachenko as the next phenom, I get it, but using the Rigondeaux performance is not the one to use as his signature win. He beat an old guy two divisions below him. Rigondeaux realized early on that he had nothing in his arsenal to win and decided he wasn’t being paid enough to get butchered, sensing Lomachenko hadn’t fully opened up on him and it was about to become more painful – so he checked out. Older fighters reach that point sometimes and it becomes more about it being a business than who is the greater fighter. Rigondeaux wasn’t the first to arrive there and won’t be the last.
Other than getting Lomachenko more deserved exposure I didn’t take away much else in the aftermath of the fight. Perhaps Lomachenko more soundly endorsed my belief that he’s stronger and punches harder than he’s credited for. However, my needle pertaining to his greatness didn’t move. How could it? I knew he was special before the fight and fighters smaller than him would be no match; he’s that great.
What I like most about Lomachenko is he’s great for boxing and will stimulate future interest in it!
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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