By Dan Wise [Twitter: @DanxWise]
Boxing has been changing over the years, from a sport where the big men used to be the main attraction to one where smaller, more skilled men are getting their recognition. This is due to the declining level of skill in the heavyweight division as compared to the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, and even the early 2000’s. Because of this, the spotlight has been shining on fighters from the smaller divisions like feather, bantam, and lightweight.
Among the many talented fighters at these lower weights, two are becoming standout boxers: Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko. The best part is that Rigondeaux’s last fight was at super bantamweight (122 lbs.) and Lomachenko’s last fight was at featherweight (126 lbs.), only a 4 lb difference between the two fighters. This means that as long as both fighters keep winning we should eventually see an inevitable match-up between them.
There isn’t much doubt in my mind that both will keep winning because both men are legitimate boxers, not just great fighters, but boxers. Guillermo Rigondeaux comes from the Cuban school of boxing, so his skill comes as no surprise. Rigondeaux is a short fighter but like many Cuban fighters he is just smarter in the ring than his opponents, he has great footwork and head movement and will jump on you with accurate counter shots. He has stinging power, take that and combine it with his accuracy and he becomes a threat to anyone from 120-130 lbs.
But don’t think by any means that Lomachenko isn’t a smart fighter, you don’t get a phenomenal amateur record of 396-1 without being smart in the ring. Lomachenko is a eastern European and like many fighters from the ex-soviet block like Golovkin and Kovalev, he combines his speed, power, movement, and ring experience, to create a deadly and dominant fighter. If you want to know what I mean by dominant watch his fight against Gary Russell Jr.
There are already people talking through the boxing community about wanting to see this fight happen and it is definitely possible. Would it happen? Lomachenko would come into the fight with a 3” height advantage but that would probably be neutralized by the 2” reach advantage of Rigondeaux. As of now Lomachenko says he will not move down in weight to fight Rigondeuax but that Rigondeaux would have to come up to 126, this gives Lomachenko a slight advantage.
The fight would be a good mesh of size and style and the contrast of size between the two would be interesting to watch, but there are forces beyond just the size and weight of the fighters that may stop it from happening anytime soon. This fight, one that I would like to see in 2015 but more likely 2016, is in jeopardy of happening soon because Guillermo Rigondeaux is rarely known by anyone who isn’t a hardcore boxing fan. For as good as he is, he is relatively unknown by the public and this is hurting his ability to find high profile fights, forcing him to fight more Asian fighters in their homeland.
Lomachenko on the other hand has not had a hard time finding big fights as he went on to fight for a world championship in only his second professional fight, winning a professional championship in his third. He was also given the opportunity to fight on the Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao under card which gave him a chance to be seen by millions of people.
If agreements can be made and weights can be set, this fight will have many upsides to it. The main upside to this fight is simple… we get what would probably be a great fight, and when I say great I mean great, it would introduce Guillermo Rigondeaux to the 126 lb. division where he could find more big name fighters and possibly finish his career, and it would also bring more attention to the smaller divisions letting more fighters make a name for themselves.
Guillermo Rigondeaux claims that he will not be staying with current manager Gary Hyde and that he is making some changes when their contract ends in September. Hopefully whatever changes he decides to make will lead to a fight with Lomachenko or at least a fight with bigger names. Both men are in their prime and should try to make the fight happen soon if they intend to do it at all. Hopefully by the end of 2015 or in 2016 we will see it happen or at least be a step closer than we are today.