NEW YORK SATURDAY: Boxing fans have been spoilt in 2017; Klitschko v Joshua, GGG v Canelo, even the Mayweather/McGregor circus turned out to be good fun. Suitably a bumper year for boxing is concluded with one of the fights of the year.
Vasyl Lomachenko meets Guillermo Rigondeaux in the squared circle with the WBO Super Featherweight title on the line. Both fighters have arrived to this point with their unbeaten records intact. Both fighters are Olympic Gold medallists, and both are southpaws.
On face value this could be one of the most evenly matched bouts in recent memory. Aside from the likelihood of these commonalities resulting in a close fight, what else can we expect?
Two unbeaten, Olympic champion, southpaws almost insist on a highly technical fight and these two fighters tick those boxes. Rigondeaux is one of the best defensive practitioners in the game, his overhand right is as mean as you like, and his footwork usually means he’s ready to fight on the front foot.
Lomachenko has a unique gift. The Ukraine marries excellent technical boxing with destructive power – a true knockout artist in a division that usually lacks in power punchers. Lomachenko’s great strength is quite literally the great strength of his straight boxing. Jabs and straights shoot opponent’s heads back and the accumulative effect of this has contributed to his seven out of nine bout knockout rate.
There is one clear divergence in these fighters’ approach to boxing. While both excellent technical practitioners, Rigondeaux likes to stand off and evaluate his opponent, waiting for the other fighter to show what they’ll throw, that’s when ‘The Jackal’ unleashes his lethal overhand right that comes from behind that footwork. Lomachenko shows no such hesitation. Sitting behind a jab and left straight that can inflict serious damage, he can very his levels and with this in mind, land serious body shot reducers that slow down his opponent.
If Rigondeaux starts slow here he could be at a serious points disadvantage going into rounds 5 to 10, where Lomachenko has scored all but one of his seven knockouts.
Weight and Age
While separating both fighters on the basis of their technical armoury is difficult, there is a far easier metric to apply to this fight to land on the winner and it’s not good news for Rigondeaux. Put simply, this fight has come a little late for the Cuban, allied to his 37 years, against Lomachenko’s sprightly 29, he’s also stepping up two weight classes to fight the Ukrainian. Lomachenko already has the higher knockout ratio and will enjoy an advantage in the power stakes.
That being said, neither fighter has been defeated so it’s clear they can both take a punch. A high class game of top end boxing chess could await us, Lomachenko has the edge, but this could be his biggest test.
The problem for Guillermo Rigondeaux is that he has to win at least two of the first three rounds. Vasyl Lomachenko is composed, pro-active, and can rack up rounds like no one else. He does his damage in the middle rounds, Rigondeaux needs to earn his place in this fight from the outset.
All these things being considered, we can’t take on the favourite here. At 1.26 on our exchange for the win, Lomachenko isn’t great value, however backing him at 2.1 to win by knockout leaves you with the option to trade out if the Ukrainian Featherweight champ gets that head of steam up.
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