Like most boxing purists, I was excited for Guillermo Ridgondeaux’s challenge to Vasyl Lomachenko. The combined technical expertise the two men possess made the fight essential for the diehard fans, if not necessarily compelling for the casuals.
The fact that this fight was held in the small room at Madison Square Garden tells you all you need to know. The sport’s most “serious” fans may have viewed this as a fight that had to happen. But not enough of the ticket-buying public agreed to justify moving it into the 20,000 seat arena.
It was obvious that Rigo was going to face a true challenge in this fight–at age 38, he was moving up two divisions, to face the only other man one the planet with an international amateur resume to challenge his own.
The size did prove to be a factor. But an even bigger edge for Lomachenko proved to be his athleticism and energy level. Rigondeaux was crafty enough to largely protect himself. He was without resources when it came to mounting his own offensive reply.
After six technically interesting, but not really action-packed, rounds, Rigondeaux called it quits, citing an injured left hand.
Expectations were probably too high for this one. Rigondeaux fought more or less the same way he always fights. But against a bigger, younger opponent with similar technical acumen, there was no way this was going to be enough. Fans like had me hoped he might find some additional trick in his kit bag. Turns out he didn’t have it. It was probably fantastical to imagine he might.
It now seems clear that Lomachenko will need to step up in weight to face a true test–Mikey Garcia at 140 pounds would be a great matchup. It is about the top weight either man could fight at while still maintaining dangerous punching power. Adrien Broner would make a high-profile fight for Lomo, if not a competitive one.