Rigondeaux injured, Lomachenko wins dull fight
By Chris Williams: In what was supposed to be a thrilling fight between 2 of the best fighters pound-for-pound in boxing between WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl ‘Hi-Tech] Lomachenko and the smaller, older and weaker 37-year-old Guillermo ‘El Jackal’ Rigondeaux turned out to be an underperforming dull fight with not much action by either fighter.
Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs) decided he’d had enough after the 6th round, so he quit on his stool rather than coming out for the 7th round. Rigondeaux said he had a hand injury. You have to take his word on it, because he’d never quit before as a pro or an amateur. The Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight was not a competitive one unfortunately.
The boxing fans wanted to see a thrilling fight, as they had made a decision to watch this match rather than the main event on HBO Boxing After Dark between super featherweight contender Orlando Salido and Miguel ‘Mickey’ Roman. That fight turned out to be light years better than the Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux. One round of the Salido vs. Roman fight was better the entire Lomachenko-Rigondeaux contest in the excitement department. As such, the fans that made the decision to watch Lomachenko beat up on a much smaller and older guy in Rigondeaux got a BAD deal in comparison to the fans that chose to watch the Salido-Roman fight. It shouldn’t have surprised anyone that Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux was a boring fight. These are both guys that still fight with an amateur boxing style. They don’t slug it out and mix it up like the exiting fighters of the sport like Oscar Valdez, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua. Lomachenko-Rigondeaux was like watching paint dry. If that’s your cup of tea, you loved last night’s fight between the two amateur stars.
These were 2 Olympic two-time Olympic gold medalists, but the fight showed ultimately is Olympic gold medalists rarely produce excitement in the pro game. It’s non-Olympic fighters that produce entertaining fights. Last nights’ Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight was a horrible bore by both fighters. Lomachenko is crowned as the best fighter in boxing today after forcing the much smaller Rigondeaux to quit due to a hand injury after round 6 last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, in New York. The performance from Lomachenko was not hardly what you’d like to see from the best fighter in boxing unless the idea is to pick a fighter that can put the fans to sleep, which Lomachenko did a fine job of. He was just a little less boring than Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux clearly didn’t come to fight, for whatever reason. The Cuban star had moved up in weight 2 divisions from the super bantamweight division where he holds he previously held the WBA 122 lbs. title. Rigondeaux is expected to be stripped of his title by the World Boxing Association now that he lost to Lomachenko, even though he didn’t have his title on the line for the fight due to the fight taking place at 130. Lomachenko didn’t meet Rigondeaux halfway between his weight class of 122. The Cuban had to go all the way up to 130. Lomachenko looked much bigger than Rigondeaux inside the ring after he’d rehydrated after Friday’s weigh-in and Saturday’s fight day weigh-in. The weight difference between the 2 fighters looked extreme. Not only did the fighters look like they weren’t in the same class in terms of weight, Rigondeaux looked like he was much too short for Lomachenko, who had a 3 inch height advantage. The size difference between the 2 fighters told you all you needed to know about who was going to win before the first punch were even thrown.
Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum was high on his fighter after the fight was over. Arum kept talking about how great Lomachenko is. What the 86-year-old Arum failed to realize is Lomachenko was boring, and nothing the exciting fighters from the past that he was busy comparing him to. Arum has compared Lomachenko to Marvin Hagler, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard. Believe me, Lomachenko is nothing like Hagler, Ali or Leonard. Those guys let their hands go with power punches, and they weren’t safety first type tapers like Lomachenko.
“The only thing I can say is you guys are seeing something really special,” Arum said via ESPN.com about Lomachenko. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I never have. He gets these guys, he frustrates them, it looks like he’s going to knock them out, and they quit because they can’t answer back. This is something really unique. Rigondeaux goes in with Lomachenko, and he is totally bewildered. He can’t hit him with anything.”
Arum is missing the point of why the fighters quit against Lomachenko. They quit not because they feel they’re going to get knocked out. They quit because Lomachenko is clowning them by trying to embarrass them inside the ring with his showboating. Lomachenko is doing what Sugar Ray Leonard did to Roberto Duran in their rematch in clowning them to the point where they quit. I’m not saying that Lomachenko is exciting to watch like Leonard. Lomachenko is nothing like Leonard. All you need to do is take a glance at a highlight video of Leonard’s old fights to understand that Lomachenko is not in the same class as the American great as far as excitement. But what Lomachenko has been doing lately is clowning his opponents the way Leonard did against Duran in their rematch. Leonard was playing around with Duran for the entire fight until he quit. Like last night’s Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight, Leonard vs. Duran 2 was not an exciting fight to watch due to the showboating that Leonard was doing. Leonard had far more exciting fights during his career against the likes of Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler.
Rigondeaux was Lomachenko’s 4th consecutive opponent that has quit during a fight with the Ukrainian. The other 3 are Jason Sosa, Nicholas Walters and Miguel Marriaga. You can’t blame any of them for quitting, because they weren’t going to beat Lomachenko. If all Lomachenko is going to do play around and clown them, it doesn’t pay for them to stick it out for a full 12 rounds, especially if they’re injured like Rigondeaux. Its career suicide for a fighter to let himself be clowned for 12 rounds. If the boxing fans see their favorite fighter get totally embarrassed for a full 12 round fight, many of those fans abandon ship and stop following that fighter. If Lomachenko wants to have guys stick around for a full fight against them, he should stop clowning and start fighting in a serious manner so that the guys won’t feel that they have to quit, because they can’t let themselves be seen getting humiliated like that. That’s not going to work. What Lomachenko and Arum don’t realize is the fallout of the Ukrainian’s habit of clowning fighters will likely be him not getting the fights he wants against other top fighters. We already saw Orlando Salido turn down a fight against Lomachenko. You can bet that Lomachenko will get similar treatment by other top super featherweights like Miguel Berchelt. When Lomachenko moves up in weight to lightweight, don’t be surprise if he fails to get fights against the top dogs like Mikey Garcia, Jorge Linares and Robert Easter Jr. Why would those guys want to fight Lomachenko if all the guy is going to do is try and make them look bad? For a lot of fighters, they’re likely going to watch Lomachenko’s fight last night against Rigondeaux and decide to steer clear of him.
While Lomachenko and Arum might see that as a victory, it’s really not. If you can’t get the best to fight Lomachenko, then he’s going to be stuck fighting Arum’s Top Rank stable fighters like Ray Beltran and Felix Verdejo at lightweight. Lomachenko isn’t going to increase his popularity without him being able to fight the popular non-Top Rank lightweights. I don’t think Lomachenko is going to be able to get those guys to fight him now, because no one is going to want to get clowned inside the ring, especially if they have to take the short end of the stick when it comes to the purse split for the fight. Rigondeaux got a 25/75 split against Lomachenko. For one of the best fighters in the world in Rigondeaux, it was sad to see him only getting 25 percent for a fight against Lomachenko. A mandatory challenger gets 25 percent, and Rigondeaux clearly deserved more in my opinion.
Last night’s punch stats showed that both fighters were anemic with their offensive skills, especially in the department of connect percentage. Lomachenko was missing almost as many punches as Rigondeaux.
Lomachenko connected on 55 of 339 shots for a connect percentage of 16%, according to CompuBox.. That’s not good. For a fighter that is being called the No.1 guy in all of boxing by some, landing only 16 percent is horrible. Rigondeaux landed just 15 of 178 punches for an 8 percent connect percentage.
“I lost, no excuses,” Rigondeaux said via espn.com. “I injured the top of my left hand in the second round. He’s a very technical fighter. He’s explosive. I’m going to come back because that’s what I do. The weight was not a factor in this fight. It was the injury to my hand.”
Rigondeaux is going to move back down to super bantamweight, where he’ll probably need to get in line to get a title shot against one of the champions now that the WBA is planning on stripping him of his 122 lb. title. Unless Rigondeaux got old since his last fight against Moises Flores from last June, he should be able to recapture a world title quite easily if given the chance. Rigondeaux might have to wait though for a title shot, because the other champions aren’t going to just give him a title shot. Rigondeaux is an avoided fighter in the super bantamweight division. After last night’s fight, they might change.
Some of the champions could now be brave enough to want to give Rigondeaux a title shot. If Rigondeaux’s left hand heals up, we’ll likely see him back in his old form when he does fight next at 122. Rigondeaux is a much better fighter at super bantamweight than what we saw last night against Lomachenko, because he’s not nearly at a disadvantage when it comes to weight. There are some tall guys in the 122 lb. division like WBC champion Rey Vargas, but he’s not someone that fights at 145 like what we saw last night in Lomachenko. The 129 lb. Rigondeaux was giving away nearly 20 pounds in weight to Lomachenko last night.
Rigondeaux was never going to beat a guy with that kind of weight advantage over him, hand injury or not. We’re not seeing Lomachenko move up 2 weight classes to light welterweight and taking on Terence Crawford, are we? Before recently moving up to welterweight, Crawford had been rehydrating to 157 for his fights at light welterweight. Crawford said many times he’d have too much size over Lomachenko for that fight to ever get made. The thing is, the size difference between Crawford and Lomachenko is exactly the same difference between Lomachenko and Rigondeaux. Lomachenko didn’t want to move up in weight to fight Crawford, but he was fine with fighting a guy that had to move up 2 weight classes to fight him in Rigondeaux. Does that make Lomachenko a bully? No, it doesn’t make him a bully. It does show that Lomachenko wants the advantages on his side for his fights rather than on the side of his opponents. It’s too bad Rigondeaux had to give those advantages to Lomachenko, because he’s too good of a fighter to have taken this fight under those conditions that were in the contract. If Lomachenko had moved down in weight to meet Rigondeaux at 126, then it would have been a fair fight. But it wasn’t even close to being a fair fight with Rigondeaux having to move up from the 122 lb. division to face Lomachenko at 130.
It would be good to see Lomachenko change his fighting style to become more entertaining. Right now, Lomachenko is VERY boring to watch, and he doesn’t used to fight that way. He’s become too much of a show boater, and it seems that he thinks entertaining when he fights in this way. He’s not entertaining. Lomachehnko should take a page out of the playbook of Gennady Golovkin and focus more on entertaining the boxing public the old fashioned way by throwing power punches and looking to score knockouts rather than clowning his opponents.