Top Rank on ESPN Preview: Diaz vs. Cruz, Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night two of the world’s best pound for pound boxers and most accomplished amateur stars will face off against each other at the Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York City.
The bout is such a big deal that the International Boxing Hall of Fame has already asked for the gloves of both contestants to enshrine.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams and Top Rank Boxing
Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko will meet in the main event of the night for the WBO Super Featherweight Title. The co-main event will be between Christopher Diaz and Bryant Cruz for the WBO NABO Super Featherweight Title.
Several of Top Rank’s high level prospects will be featured on the undercard, including Michael Conlan, Shakur Stevenson, and former heavyweight title contender Bryant Jennings.
The following is a preview of the two main fights on Saturday’s card.
Christopher Diaz (21-0) vs. Bryant Cruz (18-2); NABO WBO Super Featherweight Title
The opening bout of the night will be between Christopher Diaz and Bryant Cruz for the NABO/WBO Super Featherweight Title.
Christopher Diaz will have a five year age advantage on Diaz as he is only twenty three years old. He will also have about an inch height advantage and a four inch reach advantage.
Diaz also has the edge in power over Cruz. He has thirteen knockout victories while Cruz only has nine. Two of Bryant Cruz’s losses were by stoppage so his chin is also questionable.
Christopher Diaz has been very active the past two years. He fought twice already in 2017 and fought five times in 2016. Cruz has only fought once in 2016 but did fight twice in 2017.
The one area where Bryant Cruz appears to have an edge is in amateur experience. Cruz was a runner up in the National Golden Gloves.
Neither boxer has defeated great competition yet. Cruz has defeated noted veterans Angel Luna and Jonathan Perez, while Diaz has defeated the likes of Efrain Esquivias, Neftali Campos, and Ray Ximenez.
This is small step up for Diaz but Cruz shouldn’t present too much of a problem from Diaz to handle.
Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1) vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0); WBO World Super Featherweight Title
The main event of the evening is between two of the world’s best amateur boxers of all time.
Vasyl Lomachenko is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and won the gold for the Ukraine in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. Guillermo Rigondeaux is also a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and won the gold medal in the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics.
Lomachenko will have a major edge in age as he is only twenty nine years old and is in the midst of his prime. Age may be a factor for Rigondeaux as he is thirty seven years old.
Even though Rigondeaux is thirty seven, this is a fight he’s been waiting for a long time. He stated at a recent press conference, “I’m very happy that everything has been put in place. I started on ESPN so I am very happy that this fight is taking place there and I would like to thank Roc Nation and Top Rank for putting it together. I have been anticipating this fight for a long time and now everything is concrete and the fight is on its way.”
Size will also be a factor as Lomachenko will have a two inch height advantage and has been fighting at a heavier weight. Rigondeaux will have a two and half inch reach advantage, but he is bumping up two weight classes to face Lomachenko.
Lomachenko has kept a fairly busy schedule and fought twice in 2016 and twice in 2017. Rigondeaux has not been as active and only fought once in 2017, 2016, and in 2015.
Lomachenko has a better knockout percentage rate. He has stopped seven of his opponents in only ten fights. Rigondeaux has stopped eleven of his opponents in seventeen fights.
Both boxers have challenged themselves from the start of their professional career. Guillermo Rigondeaux has defeated the likes of James Dickens, Drian Francisco., Hisashi Amagasa, Anusorn Yotjan, Joseph Agbeko, Nonito Donaire, Roberto Marroquin, Teon Kennedy, Rico Ramos, Willie Casey, Ricardo Cordoba. His lone blemish was a no contest with Moises Flores, a fight where he was clearly the superior boxers.
Vasyl Lomachenko’s lone blemish was a tough loss to the rugged Orlando Salido in only his second professional fight. He has defeated the likes of Miguel Marriaga, Jason Sosa, Nicholas Walters, Roman Martinez, Gary Russell Jr., and Jose Ramirez.
This fight would have been a better fight if it was made in 2015 in the featherweight division. But Rigondeaux has been relatively inactive the past few years, is starting to push to the age of 40, and has to bump up two divisions to face the ultra talented Vasyl Lomachenko.
It will be a fascinating chess match to watch the first half of the fight, but Lomachenko’s youth and size difference should be enough to help him win a close decision victory.
It’s a fight that Lomachenko expects to win easily. He expressed his confidence by stating, “I said I am going to walk through him like a tank. They are two different things. I am going to walk through him like a tank and knock him out. They are two different impressions. I am like every single fighter – going into the ring I have in my mind ‘finish the bout before all the rounds are over and to get the victory before that. There is a good possibility that the fight will end before the twelfth round. I am not promising to knock him out but I am promising to squash him.”