All Eyes Will Be On ESPN Saturday Night: Lomachenko v Rigondeaux
December 5, 2017
Anna Aguilar (124 articles)
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All Eyes Will Be On ESPN Saturday Night: Lomachenko v Rigondeaux

For the first time in history, two two-time Olympic gold medalists will face off in a world championship bout. Two top-rated pound-for-pound fighters, Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko and Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux will touch gloves live on ESPN in front of a sold out crowd at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday, December 9th.

Lomachenko, 29, will be defending his WBO super featherweight world title against Rigondeaux, 37, who has moved up two weight classes in order to take this fight. Both fighters have agreed to a rehydration clause in which they can not exceed eight pounds over the 130 limit. They both agreed to weigh in at 9am and any fighter who exceeds the agreed rehydration limit will face a penalty of more than $10,000.

“I went up to 130 because it was the only way I could get this fight made,” said the Cuban, Rigondeaux. “I would rather it have been at a lower weight, but I want to show the world that I can do it by moving up two weight classes.”

Rigondeaux still holds the WBA “super” world super bantamweight title, in which WBA president, Gilberto Mendoza, Jr stated last week that if Rigondeaux defeats Lomachenko on Saturday night, Rigondeaux has five days to decide if he will return to the 122 pound division or stay at 130 pounds. The special permission for this was granted because the bout was “an important fight for boxing”

“Just so everyone knows, we are actually still working with the WBA to reconsider their resolution and position on this. I am hopeful and confident they will do the right thing and allow Rigo to make his decision after the fight. It is not a closed subject yet,” said Dino Duva, Head of Boxing, Roc Nation on regards to the WBA statement.

These southpaw two top-tier world champions hold two of the highest amateur records with Rigondeaux at about 475 fights with 12 losses and Lomachenko holds a record of 375 wins with one loss. Their professional boxing careers have been moved fairly quickly with Lomachenko grasping his first world title in his third pro fight, defeating Gary Russell, Jr for the vacate WBO featherweight title. In his seventh pro fight, the Ukrainian knocked out Roman Martinez in the fifth round for the WBO super featherweight title, making him a two-division world champion. Rigondeaux knocked out Rico Ramos, dethroning him for the WBO “regular” super bantamweight title. 

Lomachenko is a come forward boxer who knows how to close the show. His speed, power and combinations work well with his footwork, and he is dubbed to be one of the most exciting boxers to watch. Rigondeaux has a similar arsenal, however, his footwork is nothing like Lomachenko’s. Rigondeaux has the speed and power as Lomachenko, however his style is more defensive, not a lot of fans appreciate his boxing style.

Rigondeaux feels the key to this particular fight is to get in, do his job and win convincingly “so they can’t rob me.” As for Lomachenko, he feels it will be two times harder for him, as he feels he’d need to think more facing Rigondeaux. “I need to open his defense. I can’t forget my defense because he will wait for me and then I’m open,” said Lomachenko.

The majority of the boxing world will be tuned into regular television this Saturday rather than on HBO where Orlando Salido will return to the ring against Micky Roman in Las Vegas.

The WBO world title bout, which is promoted by Top Rank, in association with Roc Nation Sports and Madison Square Garden, has been sold out for about two months now. It is stamped as a very important match up to boxing and rightfully so. The ESPN televised portion of the fight will be live at 9pm ET/6pm PT. The entire card will stream live on the ESPN App at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT.

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Anna Aguilar