What is next for Vasyl Lomachenko?
By: Waquas Ali
One of boxing’s greatest talents in the modern era, Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1) has been acclaimed for his boxing skills and achievements ever since he turned pro.
From being a two-time Olympic gold medallist to winning his first world title in only in his third professional bout and to beating one of also boxing’s best and also a two-time Olympic champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux (17-1) is Lomachenko’s fourth consecutive opponent to quit on his stool and was his first loss since his amateur days.
After outboxing the Cuban in six rounds, the question now arises for Lomachenko is what next for him and what compatibility do the next fighter hold against him?
According to a survey poll conducted by Lomachenko on Twitter, he asked his followers with the options given on who he should fight next.
Out of 32,000 plus voters, 44% of them picked Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) and 39% picked Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KOs).
Those two in particular are without a doubt one of the best fighters in their respected weight classes. However, Davis himself fights at the super-featherweight division which is the exact same division that Lomachenko fights.
Back in February of this year, Davis was asked the question about fighting the Ukrainian by IFL TV and he stated that at the time it wasn’t the right move but “in the future, yes.”
Ten months later, the former IBF super-featherweight champion is now being talked about with Lomachenko and over 12,000 voters of Lomachenko’s followers want to see them fight.
In terms of styles and techniques, Davis also known as Tank has huge extensive and loads up wild combinations that dazzle his opponents. His most notable punch is the left to the head whilst countering on the inside.
Davis is also more of an accurate puncher and then starts to increase his activity level when he has his opponent in trouble, Lomachenko on the other hand tends to unload with great and consistent jabbing to the head and body.
Davis’ footwork isn’t quite unique as a Lomachenko’s is and doesn’t utilise any threat along with the stance of being southpaw – considering the fact that Lomachenko is also a southpaw.
Davis (5 feet 5 inches tall with a 67 inch reach) has a two inch reach advantage whilst Lomachenko (five feet 7 inches tall with a 65inch reach) has a two inch height advantage.
The second person as mentioned in the poll is three-weight world champion Mikey Garcia.
The 30-year-old has a variety of factors that back his resume up. He has a good leading jab that even leads to countering effectively and has caused a couple of opponents to be dropped with the jab. Garcia’s power also comes in great strength and he’s able to use his power punches really well.
According to CompuBox statistics review, Garcia was shown to have landed an average connect percentage of 43% of his power punches.
Both fighters however are in the top three as being hit with the least amount of punches in terms of connect percentage.
Garcia’s average opponent connect percentage stands at just 17% and Lomachenko’s opponent average is 16%, who is number one the list.
All these factors and stats could come in to place, should these fighters meet but they are just some of things to point out of these fighters.
The Rigondeaux Blues: Reflections on a Lonely Sport
by B.A. Cass
I woke up on Sunday feeling the weight of Rigondeaux’s loss in a way I hadn’t anticipated, a feeling that stuck with me all day.
Although I was rooting for him, I had prepared myself for the possibility that Rigondeaux would lose. After all, I told myself, he’s moving up two weight classes, he’s a good deal older than Lomachenko, and he has been fairly inactive over the past few years. It was quite plausible that he would be overwhelmed by his opponent. I was prepared for a stoppage by the referee or even a KO.
Of course, I also envisioned Rigondeaux winning. He is perhaps the most patient boxer of his generation, perhaps of all time, and patience combined with elite skill can be a very unsettling thing for any opponent, even someone as remarkably talented as Lomachenko. It wasn’t hard to imagine Rigondeaux making Lomachenko’s ring theatrics look like the diversionary tactics of a glorified amateur without much punching power.
I had prepared myself for all scenarios, except for the one that occurred.
What occurred to me, though, as I struggled through the morass that became my Sunday is that there are important differences between team sports and sports like boxing. Basketball, football, and soccer—fans of these sports may place their hopes on one player, but ultimately, they’re rooting for a whole team. But with boxing, or for that matter with sports like tennis and golf, fans are not rooting for a group of people to win. It is stating the obvious to say that in boxing, fans are rooting for one person, but the point can’t be emphasized enough.
Fans of most sports come together in large stadiums or in crowded bars to watch their respective competitive events. Boxing fans are no exception: 90,000 fans were at Wembley Stadium to see Anthony Joshua defeat Wladimir Klitschko; 12,000 fans attended Madison Square Garden to see Sadam Ali score an unexpected victory over Miguel Cotto; and 5,000 people attended the Theater at MSG this weekend to see the dull, uneventful fight between Lomachenko and Rigondeaux.
Yet even though boxing fans pack stadiums and event halls, boxing remains an intensely individual sport. As spectators, we become so attached to a fighter that even if others are rooting for the same individual, we do not see ourselves as part of a group of fans. We are individuals rooting individually for a single man or woman to win. And if that person loses, we must face that defeat in a very lonely way.
There’s also a distinction that needs to be drawn between sports like golf and tennis and the sport of boxing. Golf and tennis are invented games. The former involves people swinging metal clubs at a little ball that they’re trying to put into a hole in the earth. The latter involves using a weaved apparatus to hit a fuzzy medium-sized ball over a net and at such an angle and with so much speed that the opponent cannot slam it back over the net.
Boxing is not so much an invented game as it is brutality harnessed. Boxing makes sport of humanity’s inclination for violence, an inclination which has been around since our species has walked this planet. That is why many people understandably find the sport too horrific to watch.
At Wimbledon this past year, the Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic was brought to tears by a blister. I’m sure he was in pain. But the fact that he had to call a timeout so that he could cry into his shirt underscored for me how little pain most athletes are used to putting up with. More than any other sport, boxing tests one’s ability to endure insurmountable pain. Football players sustain long-term injuries, but even football cannot compete with the intensity and brutality that is required of fighters who battle each other at close range. It is one thing to get tackled; it’s another thing to exchange blows and get rocked with punches for twelve rounds, or for any number of rounds for that matter. It is for this reason that we do not use the word “game” when referring to a boxing match. We call them “fights.” There’s too much at stake to consider boxing a form of play.
Boxing touches on something far more basic and integral to human experience than any other sport—we watch boxing to see fighters, particularly in loss, survive. Orlando Salido, who incidentally is the only man to have beat Lomachenko in a professional bout, retired this weekend after being dominated by Miguel Roman for the better part of nine rounds. Salido lost, but we saw in him the will to continue. If the referee hadn’t stopped the fight, he would have no doubt kept going, kept fighting. Yes, he lost, but he also survived—and with our respect for him intact. Cotto lost too, but he fought to the end with an injured bicep.
With Rigondeaux it was different. He just gave up, apparently because of a hand injury. It might seem the smart move for a man to give up when injured, but in the sport of boxing giving up in such a manner approaches nihilism. After all, boxing is a sport not simply replete with injury, but a sport that practically requires injury. Certainly, Rigondeaux had fought while injured before—and if he hadn’t, as remarkable as that may seem to us, he must have known he would one day get injured during a fight.
Why did Rigondeaux choose not to get off his stool after the sixth round in the biggest fight of his life? He’s been through so much in his life—surely this was not his toughest moment.
After a failed attempt to defect from communist Cuba, Rigondeaux finally made it to the US where he had a promising, potentially lucrative professional boxing career to look forward to. That didn’t quite materialize. His first promoter, Bob Arum, seemed to work against him at times and they eventually parted ways. Since then, Rigondeaux has failed to elicit much public support, and he had resort to selling his two Olympic medals to feed his family. Perhaps Rigondeaux has had his hopes stalled and halted so many times that he has ceased to care much about anything anymore, even his own career.
And so, it wasn’t Rigondeaux’s loss that especially affected me—it was seeing him give up for no good reason, it was realizing that the man sitting on the stool had lost interest in the very thing that he had worked so hard to achieve.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
Rigondeaux Ends Historic Fight on his Stool; Lomachenko’s Legend Grows
By: Eric Lunger
Last night in the Theatre of Madison Square Garden, the world’s two most decorated amateur boxers met in an historic clash: two two-time Olympic gold medalists clashed in the professional boxing ring for the WBO World super featherweight title. Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs), the brilliant and unique stylist from Ukraine, took on Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs), the troubled Cuban exile whose defensive skills, while legendary, have earned him enmity and scorn from a significant portion of the boxing public.
Despite moving up two weight classes, the undefeated Rigondeaux hoped to match Lomachenko’s unworldly skills, and perhaps pull off the unthinkable – a defeat, a stoppage even, via the Cuban’s fearsome overhand left. There were other possible outcomes, of course, and much more likely ones. Loma, younger and naturally heavier, would dominate the Cuban and knock him out. Or, Rigondeaux, having promised to come forward and attack, would lose on knock downs and a number of 10-8 rounds. Or, less likely, maybe Rigondeaux, with his hand- speed and counter punching still sharp, would finally be the one to solve the “Hi Tech” attack.
But none of these outcomes were to be. The first round was a chess match, the type of fight the Cuban wanted: slow and cautious, a feeling out, and a few surgical punches here and there to score points. I even thought that Rigo landed a few flashier shots, and just nipped the round, 10-9. Even in the second, Rigondeaux was staying in the center of the ring, something I did not expect to see. But in this round, Lomachenko began to let his hands go in a probing, testing way. Rigo’s reaction was to duck and hold, an odd tactic, to be sure, especially against a puncher of Lomachenko’s accuracy
By the third, the Cuban was consistently holding, and his defense of ducking very low was obviously going to get him in trouble, as the Ukrainian sharpshooter began to get the timing and range of that move. Significantly, Rigondeaux threw no lefts. In fact, I commented to a writer sitting next to me that the Cuban had not thrown his left in almost two rounds. But then, I thought, this is not necessarily out of character for Rigo, as he will hold and hold the left, wait and wait, until he can fire it. It didn’t even cross my mind that Rigondeaux had injured it.
By the fourth round, Lomachenko was taking over with supreme confidence, feinting, digging to the body, controlling the tempo and pace. The last minute of the round was typical “Hi Tech:” odd angles, throwing multiple combinations, appearing at strange places in the ring, throwing multiple uppercuts, and then hooks from unexpected angles. And that was it, really. The fight was becoming a Lomachenko masterclass. For fans of the Cuban champ, the fifth and sixth rounds were tough to watch: he was tentative and confused, resorting to holding at all opportunities. His frustration boiled over as he hit out of the break, earning an irate roar from the pro-Ukrainian crowd.
And then came the stoppage in the corner. The reaction in the theatre was a deafening combination of bewilderment, jubilation, frustration, and disappointment. And in the midst of all the confusion, there was Rigo, sitting hunched over on his stool, totally alone in that crowded ring, with a look of complete defeat on his face. I could not help feeling that, out of all the possible outcomes for this historic fight, this was the saddest. I hope the hand injury is the real reason for his throwing in the towel. It is too sad to contemplate that Lomachenko broke his will to fight, and that the Cuban super bantamweight, who has overcome so many obstacles in life and in the ring, ended his career (and let’s face it – we probably will not see him in the ring again) sitting on a stool, the object of derision from the crowd and the whole boxing world.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results: Lomachenko Outclasses Rigondeaux, Stevenson, Conlan, Jennings, and Diaz Win
By: William Holmes
The Theatre at the Madison Square Garden was the host site for tonight’s highly anticipated WBO Super Featherweight World Title fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Both Lomachenko and Rigondeaux had outstanding amateur careers winning two gold medals each.
Some of Top Rank’s most coveted boxers were featured on the undercard, including Michael Conlan, Shakur Stevenson, and former heavyweight title contender Bryant Jennings.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing
The opening bout of the night was between Shakur Stevenson (4-0) and Oscar Mendoza (4-2) in the featherweight division.
Shakur Stevenson looked levels beyond Oscar Mendoza and warmed up quickly and was landing crisp combinations within the first minute of the fight. Mendoza was able to offer little in return but cover up.
Stevenson opened up the second round with hard combination that sent Mendoza falling backwards into the rope. He followed that up with some punishing body shots. Stevenson continued to obliterate Mendoza until the referee, Sparkle Lee, stepped in to stop the fight.
The stoppage may have been premature, but Mendoza was clearly outclassed
Shakur Stevenson wins by TKO at 1:38 of the second round.
The next bout of the night was between Christopher Diaz (21-0) and Bryant Cruz (18-2) in the Super Featherweight division.
Cruz was the first to land with a quick jab but Diaz was able to land the combinations and crisper counters. A straight right hand by Diaz sent Cruz to his butt in the first, but Cruz was able to get back to his feet and survive the first.
Cruz looked recovered by the start of the second round and was sharp with his jab. Diaz however landed a left hook that may have clipped behind Cruz’s head that made his legs wobbly and sent him to the mat again. Diaz was knocked down a second time in the second round with a straight right hand that forced Diaz to take a knee to take time to recover.
Diaz jumped right on Cruz in the third round and had him wobbly and sent him to the mat for the fourth time in the night. This time the referee decided to stop the fight.
Christopher Diaz wins by TKO at 0:37 of the third round.
The next fight of the night was a featherweight fight between Luis Molina (4-3-1) and Michael Conlan (4-0).
Conlan, an Irish Olympian, was levels above Luis Molina and was landing a good jab to the body and head in the first two rounds of the fight. Conlan fought with his hands low throughout the fight and by the fourth land had landed eighty punches in comparison to the twenty that Molina landed.
Conlan was able to stagger Molina in the fifth round with a good left hook and was able to do some damage with left uppercuts.
By the end of the fight Conlan had out landed Molina 128-31. All three judges scored the bout 60-54 for Michael Conlan.
The main event of the night was between Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0) for the WBO Super Featherweight Title.
The crowd could be heard chanting for Lomachenko during the referee instructions. Lomachenko had about a seven-pound weight advantage at the unofficial weigh ins before the fight.
Rigondeaux opened up the first round with a good two punch combination, but Lomachenko pressed the action more and was constantly looking for openings to land his jab.
Lomachenko was finding angles to land on Rigondeaux in the second round and had a sharp right hook. Rigondeaux was holding a lot in the second round and that holding continued throughout the fight. Rigondeaux consistently ducked low to try and avoid the punches of Lomachenko, but Lomachenko was able to find his target and dance around Rigondeaux.
The right uppercut from Lomachenko did some damage in the third round and the referee warned Rigondeaux again to not hold. Lomachenko was toying with Rigondeaux in the fourth round and Rigondeaux was beginning to look frustrated.
Lomachenko walked Rigondeaux down in the fifth round and Rigondeaux was showing his frustration by punching Lomachenko during a break. Lomachenko’s confidence only continued to grow into the sixth round as he dazzled the fans with his footwork and accurate counters.
Rigondeaux lost a point in the sixth round for holding, but he was losing every exchange when he was not holding his opponent. When Rigondeaux went to his corner before the start of the seventh he told his corner his hand was injured and that he could not continue.
Vasyl Lomachenko wins by TKO at the end of round six due to Guillermo Rigondeaux not being able to come out for the seventh due to an injured hand.
Did Guillermo Rigondeaux Make a Mistake Fighting Vasyl Lomachenko?
By: Ken Hissner
Two of the greatest amateur boxers in the history of amateur boxing will meet December 9th at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York City.
WBO World Super featherweight champion from the Ukraine Vasyl “High-Tech” Lomachenko, 9-1 (7), defends his title against the WBA & WBO Super World Bantamweight champion Cuban Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux, 17-0 (11). Both boxers are 2-time Olympic Gold Medalists.
The 37 year-old Rigondeaux was 463-12 in the amateurs winning Olympic Gold in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. The 29 year-old Lomachenko on the other hand was a reported 396-1 winning Gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Both are southpaws.
In Rigondeaux’s last fight in June of 2017 it appeared he knocked out Moises Flores. It would later be changed to a No Contest after review that he hit Flores “after the bell” ended the round.
Rigondeaux will be jumping two weight divisions to challenge for Lomachenko’s title. This could be a major factor in the outcome of the match. He’s also only fought once a year in 2015, 2016 and so far in 2017. Lomachenko has fought twice a year in 2015, 2016 and so far in 2017. He went from being the WBO World Featherweight champion to winning the Super featherweight title.
“I am promising to squash him,” said Lomachenko. “It is going to be a massacre,” said Rigondeaux.
This writer has challenged fellow Philadelphia writer/lawyer from Jamaica George Hanson to a “dinner bet” picking Lomachenko while he picked Rigondeaux.
Guillermo Rigondeaux Against All Odds
By: Kirk Jackson
It’s a great time to be a boxing fan as we steadily approach a legendary fantasy match-up, comprised of elite pound-for-pound talent featuring the likes of Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs, 1 NC) and Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs).
To quote active boxing legend and HBO boxing analyst Roy Jones, “That’s the best paper made fight ever.”
“You can’t find two fighters better on paper to put against each other. That’s the best fight I ever seen made on paper, and I can’t wait,” said Jones.
This classic encounter should be dubbed as “clash of the titans,” as these participants are arguably the greatest amateur boxers to ever grace the earth.
Their success as world renowned amateurs transcended towards professional ranks and they are regarded as the best boxers pound-for-pound.
— Hi-Tech Lomachenko (@VasylLomachenko) December 7, 2017
Although each fighter possesses numerous accolades, accomplishments, high marks of merit, each fighter traveled a different path and are regarded in different manners.
Albeit there appears to be a preference for the Ukrainian born star by many publications and members of the media. Lomachenko is the favorite in Las Vegas as well, as the defending WBO super featherweight champion is more than a 3-1 favorite over Rigondeaux.
Some pundits regard Lomachenko as the absolute best fighter pound-for-pound; over Rigondeaux, Gennady Golovkin, Saul Alvarez, Keith Thurman, Terence Crawford and even over the recently retired, undefeated, Andre Ward while he was active.
The abilities of Lomachenko are extraordinary and assortment of skills is a sight many observers marvel at; his fluid punch combinations, the dancing of feet enabling him to move in and out, side to side seamlessly and even around opponents. He presents several angles and looks creating havoc and making it nearly impossible for opponents to consistently capitalize on. Lomachenko lives up to his nickname “Hi-Tech.”
His resume isn’t bad considering the lack of fights, which is an anomaly in itself regarding his status and claim to the mythical pound-for-pound throne because typically the no. 1 pound-for-pound fighter has more bouts under his/her belt and possesses a more thoroughly defined resume.
And for Lomachenko’s efforts, he constantly mentions the desire to fight the best opposition.
“My goal is to be the best fighter in the world. Being on ESPN means many more people are going to see this fight and to see what I am all about,” said Lomachenko in an interview with ESPN.
“My goal is to continue to fight the best fighters and move up the pound-for-pound list.”
For Rigondeaux, the grass isn’t as green even though he is just as eager to test his skills against the best opposition.
There’s a small contingent of supporters comprised of hardcore boxing fanatics, mixed with a few writers and reporters with an appreciation of Rigondeaux’s defensive mastery.
But of course he has detractors; ranging from HBO commentator Jim Lampley, former promoter Bob Arum, to ESPN reporter Dan Rafael.
Rafael flat out called Rigondeaux boring on numerous occasions, while Arum was quoted saying, “When Rigondeaux stands and fights, the [expletive] has a lot of power and a lot of skill, but running the way he does really makes it not a watchable fight.”
Prominent members of the media and the fighter’s own promoter at the time was against him. Rigondeaux couldn’t even secure a fight on the HBO network.
He travelled to Japan, defended his titles against Hisashi Amagasa and the fight broadcasted across Japanese airwaves.
Because of his skill set, Rigondeaux was avoided by virtually any elite fighter neighboring his weight class.
The former Top Rank fighter was even black-balled by that promotional company and subsequently by the network (HBO) working with the promotional company after he educated one of their prized pupils (Nonito Donaire) in a masterful boxing lesson.
It seems instead of the prestige and influx of compliments one would earn for defeating a top pound-for-pound fighter, “El Chacal” was penalized with derogatory rhetoric and labeled as boring.
Historically, defensive wizards are hardly appreciated especially by the average spectator. And that’s to be anticipated, as the casual viewer typically tunes in to watch punches fly, back and forth action with defense nonexistent.
But the practitioners and hard core admirers of the sweet science can appreciate the majestic wizardry.
It appears though, many of these very same pundits in love with Lomachenko, penalize Rigondeaux for his approach and style of fighting in spite of his accomplishments and technical prowess.
Without criticizing any of the fighters, it’s fair to suggest double standards in play.
The same people listing Lomachenko or Gennady Golovkin as the “Most avoided” may certainly facilitate the same arguments for Rigondeaux and fighters like Erislandy Lara for instance.
Each fighter has an argument for the level of avoidance. Who wants to be embarrassed by someone as skilled as Lomachenko or Rigondeaux?
Facing a fighter like Lara, more than likely the opponent will swing at air and eat counter-punches in the process for the duration of the bout.
Aside from five opponents out of thirty-eight to date, Golovkin punishes and virtually knocks everyone out.
But because of the aesthetic effect and what the audience it narrated to as what is pleasing or the way to fight, certain styles (i.e. Lara and Rigondeaux) are not appreciated.
There’s an argument other issues are at play though. Skin complexion and stereo-types play a factor as well.
What’s interesting, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder endures similar scrutiny, although he is avoided for the very reason fighters avoid Golovkin. But the same standards do not apply of course.
One underlying factor all the aforementioned fighters share in common as to why they are avoided is simple; it’s the money.
It’s a matter of weighing risk vs. reward. If opponents are not offered legitimate fight purses to take the challenge, why risk taking the fight?
Risk vs. reward plagued Rigondeaux his entire career. Lack of willing opponents, lack of big names, fame and fortune that comes with it.
Securing the right fights so he can continue to show the world what he can do – similar to his display against Donaire.
Rigondeaux’s battles are in abundance; whether against the media, promotors and opponents in and out the ring.
His pain and struggle, in which fuels his desire and need for greatness. It’s the driving force behind his desperation to be great.
And the stakes will be high this weekend, because staring at him in the other corner is another fighter great in his own right, seeking to crush his dreams and plant his flag of pound-for-pound supremacy.
In which spectators will witness between the two gladiators; a battle of foot work and distance, a battle of intelligence and adjustments – even as subtle as the hand placement for each fighter.
Can Lomachenko utilize his weight advantage, height advantage, youth, angles and intelligence to outslick the tactical assassin Rigondeaux?
This video provides a great scientific breakdown of the match-up.
Although Rigondeaux is 37-years-old, fought a total of three rounds in the past two years and moved up two weight classes to challenge one of the best boxers in the world, he remains fairly confident.
The confident Cuban southpaw promised to defeat Lomachenko when they square off Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“We trained well and we’re 100 percent,” Rigondeaux said. “We had a great training camp. We always train hard for every opponent.”
Although known as one of the best defensive fighters in boxing, its uncertain the approach Rigondeaux will take in this scheduled 12-round.
Speed, flexibility and reflexes tend to slip each day a fighter ages. There’s a possibility Rigondeaux may opt for a more offensive approach but this all depends on what Lomachenko does as well.
“Each opponent is different and I adapt to each opponent,” Rigondeaux said. “Sometimes it takes more offense, sometimes it takes more defense. We adjust as we’re in the ring.”
As we approach fight time, questions remain as to who will win the fight and what’s at stake for each fighter?
Both intend to further enhance their legacy; adding victory to cement who truly is the best.
Lomachenko wants to cement his status at the best active fighter. There are plans for an ascension towards the lightweight division, but he must clear one last road block before venturing forth.
For Rigondeaux, worldwide acclaim and the riches eluded this warrior for most of his professional career. Escaping Cuba and finding success is another series of battles fought and won by the determined fighter.
Rigondeaux is against the odds and aims to prevail yet again.
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.”
Back to the Future: Can Rigondeaux Play Spoiler Again?
By: Eric Lunger
In early April 2013, it looked like things were finally going well for the supremely talented Guillermo Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the finest products of the vaunted Cuban boxing program. He had a solid three-year contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions, and HBO appeared to be on board as well, with on-air personalities Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman as vocal supporters of the Cuban southpaw’s style.
Rigondeaux had defected from his native land – he was once Fidel Castro’s favorite boxer– in 2009, leaving close family behind in order to pursue a professional career in the United States. Unable to speak English, feared as an opponent, and seemingly unable to generate ticket sales, Rigondeaux’s dreams of making it big in the US were fading away.
But when he signed with Top Rank in July of 2012, the Cuban phenom quickly moved into contention at super bantamweight, and then captured the WBA World title by stopping Rico Ramos in the sixth round in January of 2012. Then came a chance at unification: a bout with Top Rank stablemate Nonito Donaire, the WBO champion and then number five pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Rigondeaux boxed in his normal style, but he tagged the “Filipino Flash” with some brutal shots, and in fact hurt Donaire in the twelfth, forcing him to finish the fight with this right glove protecting his right eye. Donaire was eloquent and gracious in defeat, but Ridgondeaux’s footwork and evasive tactics soured Arum: “When Rigondeaux stands and fights, the [expletive] has a lot of power and a lot of skill, but running the way he does really makes it not a watchable fight,” Arum was quoted as saying in the aftermath.
Rather than being the culmination of his career, the Donaire win was for the Cuban Champion the beginning of a slide into irrelevance and then out-right avoidance. Rigondeaux fought twice more on Top Rank cards, once in Atlantic City (in a defensive snoozer), and then in a non-televised bout in Macau. After that, he became the most avoided man in boxing, and thus it is all the more remarkable that Arum is putting Lomachenko (arguably his most financially-attractive fighter) in the ring against the enigmatic Rigondeaux.
In the run-up to Saturday night, Rigondeaux has played the part on social media of the outcast and the underdog, whose victory will be all the sweeter should he pull the upset — and given Lomachenko’s advantage in age and weight, a Rigondeaux victory would be a big upset. No question that Rigondeaux is a polarizing figure in the sport. To some, he is a boring, defense-first fighter, who stockpiles points in early rounds, and then goes into cruise control. Others see him as the epitome of pure boxing skill, a practitioner of the high art of “hit and don’t be hit.”
Saturday night on ESPN, a free broadcast immediately after the Heisman Trophy award show: what bigger stage could Rigondeaux hope for at this point in his career? And one has to imagine there a voice, however faint, in the back of Bob Arum’s mind: have I made a mistake? Can the diminutive Cuban possibly pull another Donaire-like demolition of Top Rank’s Ukrainian Wunderkind?
The Misrepresentation featuring Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux
The Misrepresentation featuring Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux
By: Kirk Jackson
Vasyl Lomachenko 8-1 (6 KO’s) is considered by many pundits as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport and is in an odd position.
A fighter with less than 10 fights to be considered by many observers at the very worse, top five pound-for-pound is quite unique.
^ I personally have Andre Ward clearly ranked at No. 1, followed by Terence Crawford, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman or Roman Gonzalez.
Lomachenko’s assortment of skills is a sight many observers marvel at; his fluid punch combinations, the flickering of his feet with how he seamlessly moves in, out and around opponents, the various angles and looks that make it nearly impossible for opponents to capitalize on, Lomachenko lives up to his moniker “Hi-Tech.”
With Lomachenko’s short stint as a professional, he boasts a pretty decent resume for the small amount of fights.
Wins against Nicholas Walters and Gary Russell Jr. no matter the circumstances will look good on anyone’s resume.
I wouldn’t hold his last fight versus Jason Sosa 20-2-4 (15 KO’s) against him, as I believe that was set-up as a showcase fight, in effort to build towards a greater fight in the immediate aftermath. But it appears I was wrong with that assessment.
Lomachenko is scheduled to face Miguel Marriaga 25-2 (21 KO’s) August 5th at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California.
Fighting Marriaga does not suggest willingness to fight the best per say. For one, Marriaga is not even ranked
within the top 15 of the junior lightweight division.
He is ranked 27th according to Boxrec which is fitting because you have to resort to Boxrec just to figure who Marriaga is.
Marriaga is also coming off a sound defeat against Oscar Valdez via unanimous decision.
The interesting thing, Lomachenko and his supporters (mainly HBO’s Jim Lampley) claim Lomachenko is avoided by everyone virtually between 126 through 135 lbs.
Lomachenko and his handlers claim the same.
— Egis Klimas(@KlimasBoxing) June 25, 2017
However, aside from Russell wanting a rematch with Lomachenko, there is one fighter in particular adamant on facing the Ukrainian star. Another pound-for-pound fighter, often overlooked, Guillermo Rigondeaux 17-0 (11 KO’s).
Well. I AM TRYING TO FIGHT #LOMA AND U R DUCKING ME
— Guillermo Rigondeaux (@RigoElChacal305) June 26, 2017
Rigondeaux is overlooked and often disrespected by many prestigious members of the media. Therefore, there is a clear misrepresentation of the Cuban and his accomplishments.
The question is why?
Along with Lomachenko, Rigondeaux is arguably the most accomplished amateur fighter of all-time. Winning two Olympic gold medals, winning over 400 fights, Rigondeaux is a seven-time Cuban national champion at bantamweight (2000–2006), finishing his amateur career with a record of nearly 475 fights with 12 losses.
The misused and overused rhetoric regarding Rigondeaux is he is “Boring” and isn’t a big draw. Comparatively speaking, these sentiments can be regarded as false.
Rigondeaux has his detractors, HBO commentatorJim Lampley, former promoter Bob Arum, to ESPN writer Dan Rafael.
Rafael flat out called Rigondeaux boring on numerous occasions, while Arum has been quoted saying, “When Rigondeaux stands and fights, the [expletive] has a lot of power and a lot of skill, but running the way he does really makes it not a watchable fight.”
The more accurate reality is Rigondeaux is suffering from being blackballed within the industry.
A small example:
The height of Rigondeaux’s fame was when he dominated Nonito Donaire, at the time regarded as the top guy pound-for-pound.
Why is it, after such a great accomplishment with the unifying of titles, and brilliant performance of defeating a top pound-for-pound fighter, the victor was less promoted than he was before prior to that fight?
It’s as though he was penalized for being that good.
Around that time, circa 2013, Rigondeaux headlined another event on HBO to close out the year. For some odd reason there was a lack of promotion, even though Rigondeaux was fighting a former champion and highly qualified contender, Joseph Agbeko.
That same day rival network Showtime was airing the heavily promoted bout PaulieMalignaggivsZab Judah at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York.
There were subsequent fights on both networks and here are the numbers as follows; these numbers are based off a Jake Donovan article on www.boxingscene.com.
Highest to Lowest:
Kirkland-Tapia, HBO, 718,000
PaulieMalignaggi – Zab Judah, Showtime, 640,000
Rigondeaux- Agbeko, HBO, 550,000
Devon Alexander- Shawn Porter, Showtime, 515,000
SakioBika- Anthony Dirrell, Showtime, 446,000
Erislandy Lara- Austin Trout, Showtime, 429,000
Matthew Macklin-Lamar Russ, HBO, 401,000
It can be argued when these two opposing networks (HBO and Showtime) go head to head they lose a significant amount of viewers.
Rigondeaux’s fight was in direct competition with a fight that was actually promoted and didn’t do too bad.
If Rigondeaux vs. Agbeko aired on a night where the opposing network was not showing any boxing events, the numbers may have increased substantially.
We compare those numbers to Lomachenko’s last airing, there was an average of 832,000 viewers who watched Lomachenko defend his WBO world super featherweight title against Sosa in the main event of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader.
An event featuring another Ukrainian star, WBO cruiserweight champion AleksandrUsyk (12-0, 10 KO’s) and talented light heavyweight contender OleksandrGvozdyk (13-0, 11 KO’s).
With everything considered, promotion vs. no promotion, Lomachenko and Rigondeaux are in the same ball park.
Again why is there praise for one (Lomachenko) and disdain for another (Rigondeaux)? Why can’t there be room to praise both talents? By praising both, it’s how we continue to appreciate and build the sport as opposed to continually tear it down.
Also very important, why hasn’t this fight been made?
This can be an interesting match-up of talents featuring two legendary amateur fighters.
Rigondeaux uses an unique skill-set, possesses power in both hands and based on his social media handles (Twitter, Instagram) appears willing to fight the best as well.
The same can be obviously echoed for Lomachenko.
Perhaps it is the former promoter of Rigondeaux and current promoter of Lomachenko who does notnot want the fight to come into fruition?
Arguments and disagreements with weight, money, prevented this epic match-up from manifesting into realization in the past.
The interesting thing is this fight could potentially favor Lomachenko provided his skillset, along with his youth and size advantages.
Based off Rigoneaux’s last performance against Moises Flores 25-0 (17 KO’s) albeit a small sample size, he appears to still possess his reflexes and power.
It’s interesting both Lomachenko and Rigondeaux share so much in common; from amateur pedigree and mirrored accomplishments at the amateur and professional level, high boxing intellect and skill-levels although each possessing different skill-sets and I believe there is a gift and curse they both share.
A gift and curse once shared by Floyd Mayweather, Marvin Hagler and many other great fighters of the past.
Rigondeaux and Lomachenko are so talented, there is reluctance at some degree regarding other fighters and their desire to face them.
It’s to a point where the financial compensation must warrant the risk of the fight.
Rigondeaux’s appears ready.
I always been respectful. If they ducked me this time expert me to be very plain! #LomaRigo130lb
— Guillermo Rigondeaux (@RigoElChacal305) June 26, 2017
My manager have just Informed that if they want 130lb we must make d sacrifice.
@VasylLomachenko I AM READY! Now #ShowMeTheMoney!
— Guillermo Rigondeaux (@RigoElChacal305) June 26, 2017
Let’s make it happen.
Ward Stops Kovalev With Violent Body Attack
Ward Stops Kovalev With Violent Body Attack
By: Sean Crose
No one could have predicted this. No one.
For Andre Ward stopped the frightening Sergey Kovalev…with body blows in the eighth round. Truly, it was a stunning and brutal end for the light heavyweight title fight. For it was Kovalev who was long known as the terrifying ring monster. Ward, on the other hand, was seen more as the tactician. Yet ultimately the bout came down to tactical destruction. Seeing Kovalev crumpled helpless by the ropes was simply stunning for fight fans to see.
Photo Credit: HBO
It was some kind of fight.
And, sure enough, the fight seemed VERY close throughout. Kovalev’s shot were hard and he was as aggressive as they came as he stalked Ward about the ring. The night, however, ultimately belonged to Ward “I’ve never been the most talented,” Ward claimed after the bout, as he thanked Jesus. “I’ve never been the biggest.” He didn’t need to be, either. Even though it looked to this writer that he was losing almost as many rounds as he was winning, Ward’s body attack took a brutal toll on his Russian nemesis.
Kovalev claimed that Ward hit him low on several occasions. On the last occasion, however it seemed as if Kovalev was feinting injury from a submarine shot that wasn’t actually a submarine shot. Indeed, the shot seemed to land on the beltline at worst. Perhaps Ward sensed it, too, for Kovalev was clearly hurt shortly thereafter. And then the Oakland native went for the kill, ending things by tearing into the body rather than the head. It proved to be a perfect strategy, as referee Tony Weeks stepped in and stopped the bout.
It was an interesting night of boxing in other ways, as well. For Guillermo Rigondeaux knocked out Moises Flores with a shot that clearly landed after the bell closed the second round of their super bantamweight fight. Whether the shot was launched before or after the bell rang was a matter of some debate – but it was the Miami resident’s bout…at least for the time being.
In earlier fights, Dmitry Bivol stopped Cedric Agnew in a light heavyweight bout that made it clear that Agnew no longer has the skill which once troubled Sergey Kovalev a few years ago. Earlier still, Luis Arias dominated Arif Magomedov in the fifth round of a middeweight affair.
HBO PPV Preview: Rigondeaux vs. Flores, Bivol vs. Agnew, Ward vs. Kovalev
HBO PPV Preview: Rigondeaux vs. Flores, Bivol vs. Agnew, Ward vs. Kovalev
By: William Holmes
HBO Sports will present four fights on Pay Per View on Saturday night which will feature a main event rematch between the two top boxers in the light heavyweight division, Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.
Their first bout was a close and entertaining affair that saw Ward scratch out a decision victory after being knocked down early in the bout. Ward and Kovalev genuinely dislike each other and this bout should be as entertaining as the first one.
Main Events and Roc Nation will be co-promoting this event which will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The following is a preview of three of the planned televised bouts.
Dmitry Bivol (10-0) vs. Cedric Agnew (29-2); Light Heavyweights
Prospect Dmitry Bivol is a two time Russian National Gold Medalist as an amateur at two different weights and has never tasted defeated. He lives in Russia but was born in Kyrgyzstan and has never tasted defeated.
Bivol will be four years younger than Agnew, who just turned thirty. They are both six feet tall. Agnew was a runner up in the National Golden Gloves as an amateur.
Both boxers have decent power, but Bivol appears to be the harder puncher. He has eight stoppage wins in only ten fights, while Agnew has fifteen stoppage wins and one stoppage loss.
Bivol has been very active and already fought twice in 2017 and three times in 2016. He has defeated the likes of Samuel Clarkson, Robert Berridge, and Felix Valera. Bivol has never faced someone with a losing record, which is rare for prospects as they are usually brought up slowly.
Agnew’s biggest wins have come against boxers past their primes. He has defeated the likes of Yusaf Mack, Otis Griffin, and Daniel Judah. His two losses were to Sergey Kovalev and a man that Bivol has defeated, Samuel Clarkson.
Agnew is a decent boxer with a good looking record, but he’s been fairly inactive since his loss to Kovalev. He only fought once in 2017 and did not fight at all in 2016. This is a bout that Bivol should win quite easily.
Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0) vs. Moises Flores (25-0); WBA Junior Featherweight Title
Guillermo Rigondeaux is one of boxing’s best talents and unfortunately, one of boxing’s most avoided fighters.
He’s a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and a two time Gold Medalist in the world amateur championships. He’s slick, quick, and has some incredible defense on top of pin point accuracy. But, his style is considered boring by the average fan and he struggles to bring in a large fan base.
He’s facing his mandatory challenger for his WBA Junior Featherweight title, but it doesn’t appear Flores will be a real challenge to him.
Flores does have an edge in the physicals. He’s six years younger than Rigondeaux and will have a five inch height advantage and about a one inch reach advantage. He’s also been more active than Rigondeaux, but not by much. Flores fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015. Rigondeaux fought once in 2016 and once in 2015.
Flores also doesn’t have the amateur pedigree of Rigondeaux and hasn’t faced good opposition.
Rigondeaux has defeated the likes of James Dickens, Drian Francisco, Joseph Agbeko, Nonito Doniare, Roberto Marroquin, Teon Kennedy, and Rico Ramos. He has eleven stoppage wins on his record but has been unable to entice any of the other world champions to face him in the ring.
Flores has spent most of his career fighting in Mexico against sub-par opposition. He has seventeen stoppage victories, but only two of his past five fights resulted in a TKO or KO victory. His notable wins have come against Oscar Escandon and Mario Macias.
Rigondeaux needs an entertaining victory badly if he wants to stay relevant and land a date on HBO or Showtime. Hopefully he takes some risks to go for the stoppage on Saturday, but there’s little to no doubt that will emerge victorious.
Andre Ward (31-0) vs. Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1); WBO, WBA, and IBF Light Heavyweight Titles
Their first bout was close, very close, and many boxing aficionados thought Kovalev did enough to win the decision. However, the judges disagreed and scored the bout 114-113 on all three cards for Andre Ward.
Luckily for fight fans they get to witness a rare rematch between two of a division’s best on Saturday night, between two boxers who genuinely dislike each other.
Both boxers are nearing the end of their prime. Ward is thirty three years old and Kovalev is thirty four. They are both six feet tall and Kovalev will have a slight one and a half reach advantage on Ward.
Ward is known for his slick, defensive boxing and his accurate counter punching. Kovalev is known for his devastating power. Ward only has fourteen stoppages in his career while Kovalev has twenty six of his opponents.
However, Kovalev’s last two opponents made it all twelve rounds and he was not able to stop the aged Bernard Hopkins. Kovalev’s power appears to be waning.
Ward had a considerable amount of success as an amateur and was able to win the Gold Medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Kovalev won a gold medal in the Russian Amateur Championships, but did not experience the type of success Ward experienced as an amateur.
Ward has defeated the likes of Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, Edwin Rodriguez, Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green, Mikkel Kessler, Edison Miranda, and of course Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev has defeated the likes of Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Ismayl Sillah, Nathan Cleverly, and Gabriel Campillo.
Ward is a slick, intelligent boxer who’s able to adjust his style mid match to defeat his opponent. Kovalev’s power caught him off guard in their first fight, but he was able to adjust and win a majority of the rounds in the second half of the fight. Kovalev’s power appears to be escaping him and he looked frustrated in the later rounds against Ward.
Even though their first bout was very close, a rematch favors Ward and this writer expects him to win by a more comfortable margin.
Rigondeaux Returns to Face Flores on Ward vs. Kovalev Undercard
Rigondeaux returns to face Flores on Ward vs. Kovalev Undercard
By: Eric Lunger
While the boxing world has been abuzz this week over the looming heavyweight clash between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, news broke in the super bantamweight division as Main Events announced that Guillermo Rigondeaux will face Moises Flores on the Ward vs. Kovalev II undercard.
Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs), the highly decorated Cuban amateur and undefeated professional, has become something of a white whale for hardcore boxing fans. He was last seen in action in Cardiff, Wales, in July of 2016, when the Miami based southpaw stopped James “Jazza” Dickens in two rounds with a blistering overhand left, breaking Dicken’s jaw.
Rigondeaux has faced difficulties in getting opponents to fight him. He has been criticized for being boring and risk-averse, yet he is such a talented boxer (Freddie Roach said he was the best defensive fighter that he’d ever seen) that few want to risk a bout against him. To be blunt, “Rigo” doesn’t pull much money in terms of broadcast revenue, and he will probably beat you.
Stung by this type of criticism, Rigondeaux is ready to make a statement on what could be the biggest boxing stage of the summer, if not the year. “It’s going to be a chance to show HBO what they want to see,” Rigondeaux said via a Main Events press release…
“Some say I’m not exciting but it’s not my fault that once my opponents feel my power, they start running and stop throwing punches. Regardless of that, I’m going to give them what they want. I will be standing in the middle of the ring toe-to-toe and putting on a show for the fans.”
That sounds like a fighter who knows this could be his last chance to win over those fans skeptical of his overly defensive style. For his part, Flores (25-0, 17 KOs) is excited to have the opportunity to face Rigondeaux: “I never stopped my preparations from the original date and look forward to making the Mexican fans proud when I defeat the great Rigondeaux.” A win for Flores against the Ring magazine #7 Pound-for-Pound would certainly put Flores on the map, and would be another great victory in the storied annals of Mexican boxing. Hailing from Guadalajara, Flores has had few high profile bouts in the US. The bright lights of an HBO pay-per-view will be a new experience for him, but expect nothing but professionalism from the tough Mexican fighter.
I am excited to see Rigondeaux back in the ring, and Main Events and Roc Nation Sports are putting together a dynamite card for June 17. For the record, I love watching Rigondeaux box. His combination of defensive head movement, footwork, and blazing hand speed is, simply, mesmerizing. To see him face off against a talented and hard-nosed Mexican champion is going to be a real treat.
Why Carl Frampton Is Not My Fighter Of The Year
Why Carl Frampton Is Not My Fighter Of The Year
By: Sean Crose
Okay, first things first – there’s something a bit misleading about the title of this article. The truth is that I don’t have a FIGHTER OF THE YEAR, per se. Indeed, you won’t find me listing the greatest fights, fighters, knockouts, and whatever else here at Boxing Insider. Not that I mind writers bestowing such honors. To the contrary, I often find the whole exercise fascinating. Again, though, you won’t see me engaging in it here – at least not this year. Still, I don’t feel Carl Frampton is worthy of the honor anywhere – even though I like the guy.
There’s no doubt the Irishman has had a hell of a year for himself. First, he defeated Scott Quigg for various superbantmweight titles last winter. Then , in a terrific display, the 22-0 slugger went on to defeat fellow undefeated pugilist – and WBA super world featherweight champion – Leo Santa Cruz under the bright lights of Brooklyn. Furthermore, Frampton is now set to face off against Santa Cruz again, this time in Vegas, next month. And, as a cherry to place atop the sundae, Frampton also comes across as a polite and likeable guy. To be sure, there isn’t much not to like.
Still, I can’t think of Frampton without the name of one Guillermo Rigondeaux popping into my head. To be sure, Frampton and superbantamweight Rigondeaux now operate at different weight classes. That wasn’t always the case, though. Indeed, there has been interest in having the two men meet over the years. Sadly, however, team Frampton clearly wants nothing to do with the Cuban stylist. Indeed, Sky Sports quoted Frampton’s manager, Barry McGuigan, last March referring to Guillermo as “negative.” Uh-huh. “What do we gain by fighting him?” McGuigan asked.
Perhaps not much more than a loss, Barry. Rigondeaux is exceedingly skilled, after all. Still, ducking one of the world’s top talents shouldn’t be taken lightly. Yes, Rigondeaux can be boring and no he hasn’t endeared himself to a strong fan base. What’s more, Rigondeaux may cause Frampton to lose out on future pay days, should he make Frampton look bad. Make no mistake about it, avoiding Rigondeaux is understandable, especially when one is repeatedly willing to face the likes of Santa Cruz, as Frampton is. Yet there are consequences for such actions, as well. At least there should be.
There’s no doubt that Frampton is an impressive talent. It should not be forgotten, however, that he has avoided a perhaps even greater talent on his way to earning accolades.
Controlling Distance and Minimalism: Analyzing Wladimir Klitschko and Guillermo Rigondeaux
Controlling Distance and Minimalism: Analyzing Wladimir Klitschko and Guillermo Rigondeaux
By: Sean Kim
Both Wladimir Klitschko and Guillermo Rigondeaux possess an incredible calm in the ring which manifest in the form of a patient chess match with each fight. The two give the impression to viewers that rather than conform to impulsive and instinctive contests of strengths, these two understand that objective calculation is what distinguishes good boxers from the greatest. The two calm warriors employ a similar style in the ring, not just in the form of their tactical nature, but also in the form of their stances and minimalist punch output.
Such a fighting style is what has permitted them to dominate their matches with great ease and simplicity, all the while greatly reducing any damage to themselves.
In the matchup between Wladimir Klitschko v.s. David Haye, what we were presented with was a boxing clinic by arguably one of the most patient Heavyweight Champions in boxing history. Klitschko’s neutralization of David Haye’s ferocity was not merely due to his great weight advantage (though no doubt, this was a huge factor in Klitschko’s dominance.) Klitschko’s ability to master his own emotional status throughout the incredibly long duration of 12 consecutive rounds showcased Klitschko to be an individual of great self-restraint, objectivity and cool-headed calculation.
Klitschko was able to control distance with his far reach by leaving his lead hand out to gauge distance, while simultaneously allowing his lead hand to serve as a defense against Haye’s attacks from his left as Klitschko simply moved back. Such a simple backwards maneuver yet perhaps such subtle movement is perceived as nothing special, yet one might say that the most subtle and minimal of techniques utilized by boxers are perhaps the most impressive feats accomplished in the ring.
After all, it’s easy to get caught up in overthinking one’s own strategy in the heat of the moment. This is especially since the impending danger of getting smashed in the face could disrupt one’s own thinking process! When a fighter loses his focus, he can throw wild swings despite his habitual discipline in restraining such punches, or begin to throw lazy jabs as he loses his spirits and self-awareness. However, because Klitschko was able to maintain absolute dominance and mastery of the distance between himself and Haye- all with a high level of serenity and objective analysis- Klitschko knew exactly what to do in answer to many of Haye’s offensive attempts:
Step back and keep the lead hand where it is.
This is extremely simple and because it is so, this revealed Klitschko’s highly disciplined tactical nature.
This also permited Klitschko’s lead hand to serve multiple purposes simultaneousy: fluster Haye’s concentration, establish domination of distance, gauge distance and- while keeping the lead hand where it is- serve as defense as he steps back.
This is such a simple feat to physically accomplish just by leaving the lead hand out, yet the tactical benefits are tremendous.
Unfortunately for David Haye, his greatest accomplishments within the ring were in throwing a series of jabs to the stomach and to the head of Wladimir Klitschko, all the while finding a majority of his offense being blocked or countered as he is unable to attack comfortably at an uncomfortable distance. Instead of attacking with timing and calmness, Haye lunged in with an overexertion of excitement!
Haye was clearly over anxious throughout the entirety of the fight, and one might say that Klitschko just had the huge weight advantage, yet Klitschko clearly was able to force a chess match onto the arena, while Haye was forced to simply come forward.
A come-forward style just simply does not work against the likes of Klitschko who has absolutely mastered the art of minimalism and simplicity.
Such a style permits a long-lasting bout of consistent cerebral command, while simultaneously reducing significant damage to the body and chin of the stylist in question.
Such minimalism and objective calculation pitted against a come forward style was also evident in the matchup between Guillermo Rigondaeux and Nonito Donaire.
Interestingly enough, both Klitschko and Rigondeaux keep their lead hand in front of the opponent’s face for gauging distance, mastering distance throughout the fight, controlling the rhythm and pace of the match, comfortably throwing in a rare combination here and there experimentally, and to perhaps even subconsciously distract the opponent’s strategic thinking as he concentrates on the lead hand until…
A POWERFUL CROSS IS THROWN IN HIS FACE!
Donaire in that fight was also forced into a come forward style against Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux himself was phenomenal in his calm demeanor, constantly moving laterally.
Straight left crosses by Rigondeaux to Donaire’s stomach were very common as were right hooks to the head. Fascinating how Donaire- despite his boxing IQ- could not adjust to Rigondeaux’s minimal yet repetitious array of punching angles.
It goes to show that even though Donaire may have the boxing acumen to theoretically adjust to certain attacks, Rigondeaux’s power and timing must have been the deciding factor in keeping Donaire at bay. After all, Rigondeaux is known for his subtle yet profound punching power. He even TKOd Jazza Dickens with a single straight left to the chin!
This is to show that such a minimalist style as employed by Rigondeaux can be enjoyed by those who have such great power, patience and acumen simultaneously. Timing has so much to add to his power, otherwise if Rigondeaux were to use his punches in high quantity flurries, like Amir Khan or Sugar Ray Leonard, his power would not be as effective.
Therefore, from both a mental and physical angle simultaneously, each singular punch is that much more of an exclamation point in Donaire’s experience, both physically and perhaps more importantly, strategically. This must have thrown off Donaire’s sense of self-confidence and trust in his own acumen, reflexes, predictions and counters as he tried to figure out just what the hell to do with this pure boxing grandmaster standing right in front of him.
How else did Rigondeaux throw the same types of punches to Donaire with such high confidence, dominating with a minimal array of punching angles?
Whenever Donaire lost his cool and threw a flurry of punches from time to time, the boxing match’s patient momentum and pattern is still maintained when Rigondeaux can just slip and slide such flurries effortlessly. So even if Donaire was able to act with aggressive alternatives to break up the monotony, Rigondeaux was prepared always.
Rigondeaux is able to control the geometrical spatial nature of the match with both his perfectly timed power as well as his footwork’s angles. His footwork is extremely fluid and he is able to flow at will with the impulse of the moment, whereas on the other hand, all Donaire was able to do in his frustration- despite his boxing IQ- was to come forward. After all, with Rigondeaux, how could you possibly try to outbox the grandmaster of pure boxing? Therefore, Donaire by default, coming into the matchup, by way of a style matchup, could only come forward really.
But then Donaire is set off out of his comfortability at that point. He himself is a versatile boxer who can box as well as swarm. However, such a style would cause for a thinking match either way, and in a thinking match, Rigondeaux would come out on top. So for Donaire to be- by default- compelled to simply come forward, would also make for an absolute win-in-advance in favor of Rigondeaux, who has- even before the match had begun- neutralized Donaire’s best asset: his thinking process.
Such a result occurs when two fighters of completely different plateaus of skill step into the ring.
Wladimir Klitschko and Guillermo Rigondeaux both give off a presence in the ring where calm and calculation take centerfold into the arena, as opposed to a brutal contest of who is the stronger man. For two individuals to dominate their weight divisions the way they have in such calm fashion attests to the cerebral grandeur which these two possess. They are simply two of the greatest active boxers in contemporary times as well two of the most intelligent ones.
A Look at the Junior Featherweight Division
A Look at the Junior Featherweight Division
By: Eric Lunger
While the heavyweight division is still in flux with Tyson Fury’s sudden withdrawal from the Klitschko fight, and while fans and commentators are still tying themselves into pretzels over the lack of unification in the middleweight division, there is a golden generation in the junior featherweight class. But unfortunately, though perhaps predictably, all four of the major belts are held by different fighters: Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO’s) WBA; Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24 KO’s) WBO; Jonathan Guzman (22-0, 22 KO’s) IBF; and Hozumi Hasegawa (36-5, 16 KO’s) WBC.
Let’s take a look at these four stars and see where the division is headed. First off, I will make a confession: I am a huge Guillermo Rigondeaux fan. I know that some find him boring and dull, with a cautious defensive style. He is brilliant defensively, and he will pull some slips and upper body movements that will make you shake your head in disbelief. But he also has tremendous firepower in his left hand and will unleash it with unexpected ferocity. Watching Rigondeaux fight is like playing with liquid gelignite: it might explode at any moment. Unfortunately, Rigo can’t seem to get anyone into the ring with him. His last fight, this summer against James “Jazza” Dickens in Cardiff, Wales, was a disappointment. Rigondeaux and his team did a great job in the pre-fight build up, including an incredible display of athleticism during an open workout in downtown Cardiff, but the bout itself consisted of one round of Rigo measuring Dickens, and a second round in which the Cuban launched a devastating left that broke Dickens’ jaw. His corner waved the fight off.
So the question remains for Rigondeaux: whom to fight next? He only fought once in 2015. He has already beaten Donaire (in April of 2013) by unanimous decision. “Most feared and avoided in the division” is a cliché, but an apt one for Rigondeaux. Carl Frampton said as much after his Santa Cruz fight, bluntly stating that Rigo does not bring enough money to a fight to justify the risk. Rigondeaux has been picked up by Roc Nation promotions, so perhaps there is hope for fans that we might see him in the ring again soon.
Out of the four junior featherweight title-holders, Nonito Donaire is probably the best known. He has 40 professional bouts under his belt at age 33, so he has been around the block more than once. Impressive and articulate in interviews, Donaire knows where he is in terms of his career, and what he expects to get out of boxing over the next few years. He took a loss (TKO in the sixth) to Nicholas Walters in November of 2014, though in that bout he had moved up to the 126 lbs. limit, and Walters did look significantly bigger than Donaire in the ring. Since then, Nonito has been managed well, and has been put into position for an exciting fight on November 5 against Jesse Magdaleno (23-0, 17 KO’s), on the Lomachenko-Walters undercard. I am excited to see how Donaire handles Magdaleno’s speed and power. It should be a compelling bout.
Jonathan Guzman won the IBF belt (which Frampton vacated) by defeating Shingo Wake (20-4-2, 12 KO’s) in Osaka, Japan in July of this year. Guzman, from the Dominican Republic, has heavy hands and an attractive, fan-friendly style. He is aggressive without being reckless, comes forward consistently, and possesses excellent hand speed. Guzman handled Wake without any real trouble, though a head clash in the second round open a bad cut under Wake’s right eye. The damage was a factor in the rest of the fight and in the 11th round stoppage. Guzman is tentatively scheduled to defend his belt against Yukinori Oguni (18-1, 7 KO’s) in Japan on December 31st.
Finally, there is Hozumi Hasegawa of Japan. He is an interesting fighter with a long, professional record. Hasegawa won the WBC strap by defeating Hugo Ruiz (36-3, 32 KO’s) last month in Osaka. Hasegawa briefly held the WBC featherweight title, losing it to Jhonny Gonzalez in 2011, but he reigned as the WBC bantamweight champion from 2005 until 2010, making a remarkable 10 successful defenses in that period. For all that, Hasegawa has never fought outside of Japan. A southpaw, Hasegawa fights from range, using a pawing right jab to slap down his opponent’s lead, while looking to land his looping overhand left.
In the Ruiz fight, Hasegawa was better but not dominant. He scored a lot of straight overhand lefts from his southpaw stance, but Ruiz often presented a stationary target. Hasegawa out-pointed Ruiz, but the Japanese fighter was clearly hittable. He is certainly willing to trade and to take a punch in order to land one. The ninth round showcased some incredible action, with Ruiz managing to pin Hasegawa against the ropes and delivering a sustained attack. But, incredibly, the thirty-five year old Hasegawa found the strength to rally, launched his own flurry off the ropes, and blasted Ruiz back into the center of the ring. Ruiz’s corner did not allow their man to come out for the 10th, as Ruiz had sustained significant damage. Do yourself a favor and watch the ninth round again (preferably with Japanese commentary for atmosphere); you won’t be disappointed.
Clearly, Hasegawa is in his later years, career and boxing-wise, with Donaire not that far behind. But Guzman and Rigondeaux are in their prime, and either fighter could make a viable bid to unify the division. What would it take to get Guzman and Rigondeaux together in the ring? In the current atmosphere of fighters tending to avoid risky fights, it will take a lot. But we can dream, can’t we?