Sports Shorts

BATTLE OF THE BIGGEST LITTLE MEN IN BOXING

Casual boxing fans please step aside. This one is only for the boxing purists. When it was announced that Vasyl Lomachenko was to defend his WBO world super featherweight title, on 9th December against Guillermo Rigondeaux. You could have heard the collective drool of the boxing fraternity splatter on the ground…. 

The term “one for the purists” is often thrown around when two high level boxers come together. However, hat term is never more fitting than in this situation. Two fighters in the lighter weights, that has struck genuine fear amongst their boxing peers. Two fighters with superb amateur backgrounds and records. Yet modest professional records, in terms of amount of fights, but people still make an argument for them being on the pound for pound list. 

The fear comes from their unbelievable and almost unrivalled boxing skill and abilities. Even with their relative modest professional records, they have already demonstrated sheer dominance in the ring against fighters regarded as good champions.

Rigondeaux destroyed Irishman Willie Casey in one round for the interim WBA super bantamweight title. Casey was undefeated, won UK’s prize fighter and was making a name for himself until he was destroyed by Rigo in one round. In Rigo’s next fight he won the WBA title outright, against title holder Rico Ramos, who was also undefeated. Rigo dethroned him in 6 rounds. In 2013 Rigo fought the 2012 fighter of the year Nonito Donaire for the unified WBA, WBO and ring magazine super bantamweight titles. He strolled to a unanimous points victory which many thought was wider than the judges gave it. 

Lomachenko won his first pro title in only is third professional fight, when he won the WBO featherweight title, inflicted Gary Russel Jr’s only defeat in 29 fights via a majority points decisions. Then in only his 7th fight, he destroyed Roman Martinez in five rounds to win the WBO super featherweight title. In his next fight, he outclassed the previously unbeaten and former WBA featherweight champ, Nicolas Walters in a fight I was expecting to be tough. Loma made it look easy, forcing Walters to quit at the end of the 7th, almost in tears. 

Both fighters are considered to be two of the most avoided in boxing. They have similar, tremendous amateur records. Rigondeaux 463-12. Lomachenko 396-1. Both are considered to have some of the highest level boxing ability and skill in the sport today. It is no exaggeration when I say this fight will go a long way in the pound for pound argument.  

Possibly the biggest key to this fight is the fact that Rigondeaux is moving up two weights. He is also almost eight years older. However, he does have a reach advantage, is the unbeaten man and professionally at least, is the more experienced fighter. But as the naturally smaller man Rigondeaux may have to be the aggressor and take more risks than he is used to, or needed to in the past. This could allow vital openings for Lomachenko.  

That there could be the only edge in this fight, but it still could be a significant one. As Lomachenko doesn’t need any kind of edge to win a fight and the level he is operating at, any edge in his favour is a huge edge. With that said. Rigondeaux is not just any boxer.

Once dubbed Fidel Castro’s favourite fighter. Due to him outclassing fighters with ease. Rigondeaux has often been called a boring fighter, this has plagued his career in the marketing side. But the fact is, he has just been too good for opponents and that high risk, low reward in terms of marketability and money, makes him an easy “no” for fighters looking to build a legacy. 

Nobody has labelled Lomachenko boring, but he has faced pressures, being named a star even before his first professional fight. This led to the shock loss in his second professional fight via split points decision. The fact that, despite his vast abilities,  he fought for the title in his next fight. Has caused a few to label him protected, looked after, even lucky and being handed opportunities. 

So although both fighters have been lauded and revered. They are both coming into this fight with something to prove, in what is most definitely their toughest test yet. This is what also makes the fight so intriguing. It won’t be a slugfest by any shadow of the imagination. I am expecting a tough, tight, exciting chess match of the highest quality, with plenty of movement, pinpoint accuracy, aggression with loads of top-level exchanges. 

Both fighters have the capabilities of performing on a different level to other fighters, being dominant in the ring, making it look easy. Both have shown flashes of brilliance and demonstrated glimpsed of pure class. Both operate in the finest of margins and at times look as close to perfect as you can get. Both work with the thinnest of fractions, using a skill set that can probably, already be classed as up there with the very best….

So with all that being said. The time for talking is over. December the 9th is fast approaching. Quite simply. Its time to prove who is the elite, most purist boxer in the game today!!!!!