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Vasyl Lomachenko, Guillermo Rigondeaux to meet in ‘historic fight’ on Dec. 9

Graphic by Lorin Elise/RBR Boxing

Bob Arum has promoted hundreds of marquee events during a hall of fame career that has spanned over 50 years.

But nothing quite like this fight.

The much-anticipated bout has been in the works for weeks but is now a done deal: Lomachenko will defend his 130-pound title against Guillermo Rigondeaux on December 9 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, Top Rank announced Friday.

Rigondeaux, THE RING’s top-ranked fighter at 122 pounds, will move up two weight classes for the challenge in what shapes up to be the crown jewel of Top Rank matchups on ESPN in the infancy of the deal.

“Rigo and Lomachenko, I’m very proud of because it’s an historic fight,” Arum told “It’s a nice fight to be promoting because for me it’s all about legacy … for me it means the world to have these two guys who have each won two Olympic gold medals to be facing each other, that’s what it means to me. I am very high on it, I’ve always been high on it.”

This will be the first meeting in boxing history between two men who have reached the pinnacle of amateur boxing not once, but twice. It’s also a meeting between two of the top five pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

It’s also a fascinating style matchup: Lomachenko, the dynamic athlete who possesses supreme fundamentals and has made winning look easy. And Rigondeaux, the defensive master who knows no peer when it comes to ring generalship.

Arum actually promoted Rigondeaux in 2013 when the Cuban scored a career-best victory over Nonito Donaire, then the reigning fighter of the year. But afterward, Arum lampooned Rigondeaux for his cautious style. Soon after, Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 knockouts) and Arum parted ways following a dull fight against Joseph Agbeko.

There never was any doubt, though, when it came to Rigondeaux’s talent. But now, he figures to stand across the ring from someone who not only matches him in terms of natural ability, but is also six years younger and also eight pounds heavier.

Lomachenko, a 29-year-old Ukrainian, has forced fans to marvel at his ability to attack opponents from seemingly all angles. In just his third pro fight, Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) basically shut out Gary Russell Jr. over 12 rounds.

All the while, top fighters in and around Rigondeaux’s weight simply refused to fight him. Otherwise brave boxers like Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz simply wanted no part of “The Jackal.”

So after so many years wasted fighting against non-descript opposition with the best unwilling to meet him, the 36-year-old decided he needed to move up in weight and face perhaps the best fighter in the sport.

“I think Rigo understands,” Arum explained, “at least from what our our friends at Roc Nation tell us, that he knows this is his signature fight, and he’s going to throw caution to the wind to win. Rigondeaux will give anybody problems.”

At 36, can the southpaw upend Lomachenko, a seemingly invincible fighter, and cement his legacy? Time will tell. But finally, after all these years, Rigondeaux’s shot on the big stage is here once again.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger