By Chris Williams: 122-pound champion Guillermo Rigondeaux saw WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko’s win over 2nd tier fighter Miguel Marriaga last Saturday night, and he believes he can knockout the 2-time Olympic gold medalist if the two of them face each other. Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) defeated Marriaga (25-3, 21 KOs) by a 7th round stoppage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. The fight was televised on ESPN.
Rigondeaux saw enough flaws in Lomachenko’s game to make him believe that he would beat the 29-year-old Ukrainian. Rigondeaux had to have been shaking his head at watching Lomachenko fight with his hands down by his waist for much of the night against the 30-year-old Marriaga.
“We all know he can fight, the problem is that he is fighting someone that is not fighting back and I will,” said Rigondeaux on his Twitter. “I will stop this guy.”
Rigondeaux’s counter punching, body shots and power would be a real problem for the 29-year-old Lomachenko. We saw how Lomachenko was fighting with his hands down by his waist in his last 3 fights against Marriaga, Jason Sosa and Nicholas Walters. Lomachenko has now developed a cocky way of fighting, and that won’t fly against a disciplined guy like Rigondeaux.
It’s too bad that Top Rank has been feeding Lomachenko over-matched opposition, being that he’s developed a lot of unpleasant habits inside the ring. If Lomachenko tries to fight Rigondeaux with his hands down by his sides all night, he’s going to get beaten as badly as Rigondeaux’s last opponent Moises “Chucky” Flores did last June. Rigondeaux stopped the hapless Flores in the 1st round. Flores fought with the same lack of discipline that we saw from Lomachenko last night.
”Stop booing Marriaga,” said Rigondeaux about the boxing fans that were booing his one-sided fight against Marriaga last night.”It is your fault for expecting the impossible. Boo Lomachenko for not demanding a better opponent. Please! Even my baby son can beat someone that is not fighting back.”
Lomachenko tried to offer up an excuse after the fight about his poor opponent, as if he could explain away the poor match-up. Boxing fans don’t care about excuses. Lomachenko had his chance to reject Top Rank’s choice of opponent for him when they offered him the Marriaga fight. Instead of doing that, Lomachenko agreed to fight Marriaga.
“It’s not my job [to find opponents]. My job is to work my best boxing in the ring,”
It’s Lomachenko’s job to reject poor opponents. He doesn’t have to fight the guys that Top Rank digs up for him to fight. I think it’s a copout on Lomachenko’s part to say that it’s not his job to find opponents. It’s his career that is being wasted by him fighting guys like Marriaga instead of better fighters like Rigondeaux, Orlando Salido, Mikey Garcia, Terence Crawford or Robert Easter Jr. If Lomachenko wants to play it off like it’s not his responsibility in the selection of his opponents, then that’s disappointing, because he does have a say so. Lomachenko has been with Top Rank for 4 years, and he’s still not a highly popular fighter. I think it comes down to the poor match-making that’s being done for him. Lomachenko needs to step it up already and start fighting guys like Rigondeaux if he wants to take his career to the next level.
The boxing fans wanted to see an exciting fight last Saturday night between Lomachenko and Marriaga, but instead they saw Lomachenko showboating, tapping his fighter with feather-fisted punches, and treating the fight like an exhibition match. It looked like a circus fight. All they needed was a clown car that a bunch of clowns piled out of one after another. Lomachenko didn’t fight like he was serious. When you showboat, and fight the way that Lomachenko did, it’s off putting to the boxing fans that pay to see the fights live. They want to be entertained. Watching Lomachneko fight with his hands down, trying to entice Marriaga to punch him, and that was not entertaining to watch. Lomachenko would have been better off knocking this over-matched guy out as fast as possible in the style of Gennady Golovkin or Mike Tyson.
”Can’t wait to hear what the #fake boxing news is going to say. Some fighters demand bigger pay and lesser opponents. I demand better pay and the best opponents,” said Rigondeaux.
Lomachenko has fought these fighters in his last 7 fights since 2014:
– Miguel Marriaga
– Jason Sosa
– Nicholas Walters
– Roman Martinez
– Romulo Koassicha
– Gamalier Rodriguez
Those are the only fights that Lomachenko has to show for himself in the last 3 years of his pro career. The years have flown by, and Lomachenko has accomplished very little since 2014. If Top Rank is going to continue to match Lomachenko the way they’ve been doing, another 3 years will fly by and he’ll be right where he is right now. I think it’s clear that Top Rank needs to start taking some risks with Lomachenko by matching him against fighters.
Here are the guys Lomachenko should be fighting:
– Guillermo Rigondeaux
– Oscar Valdez
– Miguel Berchelt
– Orando Salido
– Robert Easter Jr.
– Mikey Garcia
– Jorge Linares
– Terence Crawford
– Julius Indongo
– Terry Flanagan
– Jessie Magdaleno
– Gary Russell Jr.
– Leo Santa Cruz
– Abner Mares
– Joseph Diaz Jr.
– Gervonta Davis
– Jezreel Corrales
Those fights aren’t happening though, and I doubt that they will happen. It’s unclear whether Top Rank is trying to turn Lomachenko into a star by paying little to his opponents in hopes that he can become popular without a great expenditure of money on their part. If that’s what they’re trying to do, then I see it as a failure.
The top fighters in boxing aren’t going to want to take a risk in fighting Lomachenko unless they’re getting good money. That means Top Rank will need to pay their asking price to fight Lomachenko, even if it means they’re paying more than what the opponent is worth.
Whether the two fighters can face each other is up to Lomachenko’s promoters at Top Rank. They seem to be more interested in making Lomachenko look good by matching him against guys that have no chance of beating him. Top Rank would need to take a risk with Lomachenko if they were to put him in with Rigondeaux, and I don’t think they’re going to do that. Even with Lomachenko having a big weight advantage over Rigondeaux, he still might lose to him, because he’s slower and he has lots of bad habits. Lomachenko might beat Rigondeaux on size, but he would still be made to look bad by the Cuban fighter.
I don’t think Top Rank will take that risk. Rigondeaux already beat one of Top Rank’s biggest boxing stars in their stable 4 years ago when he defeated Nonito Donaire by a 12 round unanimous decision in 2013. Donaire was a regular on HBO Boxing, bringing in good ratings. Rigondeaux wrecked all that by beating the brakes off of Donaire, and his career was never the same afterwards. If Top Rank puts the highly hyped Lomachenko in with Rigondeauix, we could see the same thing happen, which is why I don’t think Top Rank will make that fight. My guess is Top Rank will give Rigondeaux a low-ball offer that he will never accept. Once Rigondeaux turns down the fight, Top Rank will go ahead and match Lomachenko against another fighter in the Marriaga class. Hopefully, they don’t select from the featherweight division for Lomachenko’s next fight like they did in picking Marriaga.
“He doesn’t just beat you physically. He beats you emotionally, spiritually,” said a fawning ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas about Lomachenko following his win over Marriaga last night. “He takes your hope away. He breaks you down in degrees. Very few fighters do that. He does it with technique, skills, going upstairs, and downstairs. He demoralizes fighters,” said Atlas.
It’s nice that Lomachenko demoralizes the guys that he’s being fed by his promoters, but he’s also not been fighting good opposition since his close win over Gary Russell Jr. in 2014. That was the last time that Lomachenko fought a good opponent that was fighting at top form, I know Lomachenko beat Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa and Roman Martinez, but those guys were not good enough to give him a good test. Walters had been out of the ring for 1 year when he fought Lomachenko. He’d also been held to a draw in his previous fight against Sosa. Roman Martinez had gone through 2 wars against Orlando Salido, and he looked in bad shape coming into a fight against Lomachenko. It was not an appropriate time for Martinez to fight Lomachenko.
“They need better opposition, bigger opposition,” said Atlas in talking about the match-making that’s being done for Lomachenko by his promoters at Top Rank. “Rigondeaux, I know he’s not scintillating or anything like that, but I would like to see them matched up. Rigondeaux is a great counter puncher, a good body puncher and a good defensive fighter. I know he doesn’t fight enough. I know all that. He’s getting old, so who knows how old he is. I don’t know, but I would like to see them matched up for the pure perspective of boxing,” said Atlas.
There’s no question that Top Rank needs to find better opposition for Lomachenko. They needed to use the momentum they had from his win over Russell Jr. back in 2014 by continuing to match him against good fighters. They have the money to get good fighters everytime for Lomachenko, but it would obviously mean paying out more than what comes in. I think Top Rank needs to have been doing that all along, because Lomachenko is not from the U.S, he doesn’t have a built-in fan base like Saul Canelo Alvarez does, and his fighting style isn’t people-pleasing.
Lomachenko doesn’t go out and try and obliterate his opponents the way that Gennady Golovkin does. Lomachenko uses his defense, boxing skills, and rapid fire tapping punches to win his fights. It’s not thrilling stuff to watch. Boxing fans want to see brawling. They’ll make exceptions if the fighter has blazing hand speed and cat-like reflexes like Floyd Mayweather Jr. Lomachenko does hand speed or reflexes like Mayweather, so he can’t imitate what Mayweather does and expect the boxing fans to love what they’re seeing. Lomachenko needs to pattern his fighting style from Golovkin, and look to get his opponents out of there as quick as possible in order to entertain them. Thus far, Lomachenko isn’t doing that. He’d doing the opposite.
“Listen, he took apart a good pro, but you only want to see him with the top pros,”said Atlas about Lomachenko. “Rigondeaux would try and catch him in one spot where he makes a mistake. Rigondeaux is calm enough, accurate enough, and powerful enough to maybe place a punch at the right time. But those guys can’t do it,” said Atlas.
I think Atlas is right about Rigondeaux looking to catch Lomachenko with a big shot when he makes a mistake. That’s exactly what Rigondeaux would do. I don’t think he would gain a bunch of weight for the fight. Rigondeaux would likely keep his weigh low and use his hand speed to get the better of Lomachenko. It would be a mistake for Rigondeaux to hurt his body by bulking up to 130 for one fight against Lomachenko. He’s not going to be as heavy as him even if he did gain some weight. Lomachenko is clearly close to 140 for his fights. Rigondeaux weighs right at 122. He’s going to be giving away 18 pounds no matter what against Lomachenko. Gaining 8 pounds in a hurry would likely be mostly fat, and Rigondeaux would still be outweighed by 10 pounds by Lomachenko.
“Lomachenko eats him up,” said Gennady Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez to Fighthub about a fight between Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia. “I think Lomachenko is one of the best fighters around right now. Lomachenko [beats Rigondeaux. I think Rigondeaux is too small,” said Sanchez in saying he’s too small for Lomachenko.
Rigondeaux probably is too small for Lomachenko, but he’s still a vast improvement over the recent guys that Top Rank has been matching him against. Rigondeaux is a highly talented fighter, and most importantly, he’s a winner. The guys that Tank Rank has been feeding Lomachenko are not winners. They’re guys with major flaws in their game, and most of them were coming off rough fights.
Abel Sanchez is probably correct about Lomachenko being too good for Mikey Garcia. After seeing Garcia fade in the 7th round against Adrien Broner in their fight on July 29, I think Lomachenko would push a fast pace and easily beat Garcia. I don’t think that fight is ever going to happen. Lomachenko’s promoters at Top Rank do not seem interested in making that fight. We saw that this past week when Tank Rank president Todd duBoef talked about how he was unimpressed with Garcia’s performance against Broner. The way that duBoef was speaking, I got the impression that he has zero interest of matching Lomachenko against Garcia. You can form your own opinions as to why Top Rank wouldn’t want to make the Lomachenko-Garcia fight. My guess is there might be bad blood still from Mikey having left Top Rank. You can argue that Top Rank would be doing Mikey a favor by matching Lomachenko against him. That’s why I don’t see the fight happening between Lomachenko and Rigondeaux.