Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux, a boxing match between two two-time Olympic boxing gold medalists, occurred on December 9, 2017. The Cuban boxer, Rigondeaux (or Rigo), normally fought at the super bantamweight division (122lbs or 55kg) but moved up 2 weight classes to fight the Ukrainian boxer, Lomachenko (or Loma) at the super featherweight division (130lbs or 59kg). I will present a partial analysis and my review of the fight.
Lomachenko had many advantages coming into the fight, so it was up to Rigondeaux to step up and do what it would’ve taken to win. Since this was Rigo’s responsibility (and since he is one of our favorite boxers here on straight2boxing), my fight analysis and review will be more focused on Rigondeaux.
Why would an undefeated super bantamweight fighter (17-0) move up 2 weight divisions to fight a super featherweight fighter, who had almost no disadvantages going into the fight? In my view, Rigondeaux wanted this fight because:
1) He and Lomachenko were the top guys at the lower weight classes and their weight difference wasn’t large enough to dismiss the prospect of fighting each other.
2) The fight was very marketable as both he and Lomachenko had two Olympic gold medals in boxing, as well as very decorated amateur boxing careers
3) Rigondeaux didn’t have a fight in nearly six months, and arguably he didn’t have a significant one since 2014. This is most likely due to his potential opposition ducking or avoiding him.
4) Related to 3, Rigondeaux needed to get some momentum going especially because boxing fans generally found him boring, regardless of his skill; that is, on Rigo’s part, this fight happened because the amount of money involved made what would’ve otherwise been a bad opportunity into a great opportunity.
Rigo’s plan was to find Loma’s timing and rhythm so that he could land his power shots, as he normally would against other opponents. This part of his plan wasn’t any different than his plan for his previous fights. Rigo’s boxing style is so effective against his previous opponents because he typically had superior control, timing, and power. What Rigo had to do for this particular fight, the other parts of Rigo’s strategy, was to actively mitigate Loma’s volume and deny Lomachenko’s famous work in the pocket, as Rigo’s best work is done at the mid and long ranges, and Loma’s best work is done at the close and mid ranges.
Throughout the first round, both boxers were testing each other. Loma had reason to test Rigo because Rigo definitely had power at his usual weight but Loma needed to find out whether that power would carry over to the higher weight class in which they were fighting. Rigo needed to test Loma in order to carry through with the game plan of finding the timing and rhythm to land his power shots. Both fighters took the entire round to test each other; Lomachenko is a master at feinting, disrupting rhythm, and finding angles, and so, focusing on finding the timing and rhythm, Rigo had low punch output which gave Loma little to work with. One can say that both fighters are at their core counter-punchers; this also contributed to the extended amount of time they spent not throwing since counter-punchers usually wait for their opponent to make the first move. You can see this clearly just before the end of the first round; both boxers were waiting for the other to make the first move.
The rest of the fight was less interesting. Loma took advantage of the hesitant Rigo, and started putting his skills to show. Rigo was more focused on defense, while Loma was focused on offense. As some of us might know, this can probably lead to a one-sided fight. In this case, it did.
The fight ended in the 6th round. It was highly likely that Rigo would lose but it was surprising how he lost in this fight. He lost by quitting, perhaps due to a hurt hand or just finding himself in the worst of places that night or both. It was revealed recently that Rigo’s soul just wasn’t in it, so it is more understandable why he’d quit in the middle of the fight with Loma. Teddy Atlas and Andre Ward were not so harsh on Rigo for the outcome of the fight, because they saw a little of this: that Rigo wasn’t quitting because Loma was dominating; instead, he was because his heart and soul weren’t in it.
Overall, the fight itself was disappointing and boring. Loma did everything right; Rigo didn’t do what he was supposed to do. We were optimistic that it wouldn’t have played out like this, and we definitely weren’t expecting Rigo to quit. Yet, the circumstances surrounding the fight were interesting and help to explain how the match played out.
Hopefully, Rigodeaux makes his comeback and realizes his potential before it’s too late. As for Lomachenko, he is remaining very successful and is now considered by some to be the number 1 pound-for-pound boxer currently.