By Rodney Ross, Contributing Writer
The Vasyl Lomachenko vs Guillermo Rigondeaux boxing match over the weekend was a classic example of “not every fight is good for you.’’
Interestingly, both men were highly decorated and accomplished in the sport of boxing. Combined they had more then 800 fights in the amateur ranks. Both won gold medals twice, and both have won titles since turning pro.
Rigo was believed to be the only person who could potentially match Loachenko’s ring IQ. Both are southpaws with elite skill. On paper this sounds like the match that everyone wants to see.
What was missing in the hype, was that Lomanchenko had destroyed people in the ring. His last three world-class contenders would not come out of their corner to continue fighting. As the cliche goes, “there are levels to this.’’
Anyone can get caught by a punch and get knocked out. Some people are highly skilled at masking their attacks and flashing shots the opponent can’t see and disconnect their lights.
It’s a completely different story when you simply snap a man’s will to continue. To give up hope. To snatch the will and fire to compete—if nothing else for the honor.
It takes so much more to make a fighter quit. A certain kind of dominance both physically and mentally. Rigondeaux would make the fourth consecutive world class fighter that Lomanchenko has ethered.
But as was previously mentioned, there are levels to this. Rigondeaux is arguably just as talented as Lomanchenko. But if we turn off the sound and watch the fight without ringside bias, Rigondeaux actually stayed with Lomanchenko and effectively defended himself against the flash.
When Lomanchenko pivoted, so did Rigondeux. He slipped past a vast majority of Lomanchenko’s offensives. But it’s not about the misses, but the ones that do connect. Lomanchenko was clearly the best and most strategically sound person Rigondeaux has ever faced. And I believe that with a different camp, a better strategy could’ve been formulated to give Rigondeaux better answers then the clinch. And this is where the true politics of the fight begins.
Imagine Mike Tyson is his prime on one side. And on the other side you had Roy Jones in top form but on the down side of his prime. As in the skills are still there, but now there’s the fight that every boxer loses to—age, were reflexes slow down.
Now let’s create the stage where both agree to fight because they are the best pound-for-pound fighters, and this is the fight the fans want. There’s no one in Roy’s division that Roy can promote a big payday for himself. The only name that gets him paid is two divisions up. So now you’re talking about fighting a bull, in his weight class, where he has all the advantages. Tyson wins this fight every time.
This is no difference with Lomanchenko and Rigondeaux. A more fair fight is if Lomanchenko went down one weight class and Rigondeaux went up. But this is what happens when you are the A side of the card and your promotional team holds all the keys.
Rigondeaux has not been effectively marketed since turning pro. And unless you’re a boxing purist, you may have never heard of him, in spite of him winning gold twice in the Olympics, and winning titles in two divisions as a pro.
Your team matters and right now, Lomanchenko’s team is winning on all fronts. Simply put, this fight should’ve never happened the way that it did. And in a certain way, Lomanchenko’s destruction of Rigondeaux may have long-lasting effects toward the latter’s career.
This may have been the last fight for Rigondeaux’s career. Who is going to be able to promote a fight for a man that was supposed to be a champion and highly regarded, who quit? It would be difficult to get the few Cuban loyalists to follow after this, and even if a fight materializes from the pile of ash that was once Gillmore Rigondeaux, if he doesn’t win in spectacular fashion against a name-brand contender, he will become faded to the bottom of the archives.
And all the fans who wanted this fight to happen, will lose the memory of his name, just like he lost his will to fight a superior fighter in his weight class.