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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux)

08
Dec

FORCING THE FIGHT

Hey Doug,

I’m looking forward to the fights tomorrow, especially Orlando Salido vs. Mickey Roman and Rigo vs. Loma. The former should be an absolute war, but I think the latter could potentially be pretty good too.

Guillermo Rigondeaux is known as a master of stinking out the joint if he doesn’t blast his man out early, but I think Vasyl Lomachenko is one of the few guys out there with the footwork to actually prevent Rigo from just playing a cagey game of keep away. Loma has the foot speed, the ring generalship, and the pressure style to force Rigo to FIGHT him and for that reason, I think we may be in for a pretty good fight.



Like most folks, I favor Loma due to his size and age advantage, his greater punch variety, and the fact that I think his pressure and ring cutting will make Rigo deeply uncomfortable. Rigo does have the longer arms and probably the better one punch pop, but I don’t think it’ll be enough. This fight will be decided by who can impose “their fight” and Loma pressuring and pecking away at Rigo with jabs as well as punches to the less elusive body is a lot easier for me to envision then Rigo pot shoting and frustrating Loma ala Mayweather vs. Canelo. – Jack E.

Um, yeah, Loma’s got a lot more in his tool box than the just-turned-23-year-old version of Canelo had against Floyd Mayweather in 2013; and he’s got more tricks up his sleeve than Nonito Donaire had against Rigondeaux in 2013.

We’re talking about Lomachenko, a versatile boxer who was just as accomplished in the amateur ranks as Rigo was (perhaps more so) and has mastered the professional craft every bit as much as the Cuban (maybe more), and it’s not 2013. It’s 2017. The boxer who is in his prime and who has the momentum going into Saturday’s showdown of two-time Olympic gold medalists is the 29-year-old defending junior lightweight titleholder who is fighting for the third time this year.

I favor Lomachenko because of his more aggressive boxing style, his age, his size and recent fight activity. But I’m still not convinced that the Ukrainian marvel can pull Rigondeaux into a shootout if the counter-punching expert doesn’t want to get into a fire fight. I think it’s possible that Loma-Rigo can deliver a compelling boxing match over 12 rounds, the kind of chess match that fascinate some hardcore purists, but I just don’t envision the type of sustained action or fierce exchanges that will prompt casual fans to call it a “pretty good fight.”

We’ll see. I think Lomachenko will outhustle Rigogdeaux to a unanimous decision. It might be close in the view of some observers, maybe legitimately so, if it takes Loma the early rounds to get into his rhythm and if Rigo is able to command the center of the ring at the start of the contest. However, my hunch is that when the 130-pound titleholder turns up the heat by the middle rounds, the 122-pound king will get moving and box and punch mainly from a defensive stance. This will enable him to go the distance (which can be viewed as a “moral victory” if he’s able to win enough early rounds), but not win the fight.

Rigo is too smart to be sucked into wild exchanges and too proud to allow himself to get KTFO. If Loma can somehow “force” a good fight with crafty pressure and varied offense, I will be impressed – with both men.

Regarding Salido-Roman, there’s no doubt in my mind that the two Mexican veterans are going to throw down for 10 rounds (or however long it lasts). I know Salido is something like a 2-1 odds favorite, but I’m kind of feelin’ Mickey in this one. They both have a ton of fights (Roman will be in his 70th pro bout on Saturday; Salido will be in his 63rd) and an equal crazy number of rounds under their belts (426), but I think “Siri” has been in more wars against more world-class opposition and it has to have taken a toll on his 37-year-old body. I’m going with Roman by decision.

 

COTTO IS GONE, LOMA-RIGO IS HERE

Hi Dougie,

So Miguel Cotto lost… I would remember him as a powerful and skilled warrior who faced the best and just came up short behind the top 2 of his era.

His resume at 140/147 pounds is impressive. He declined a little bit after the Margarito and PacMan fights, but still gave a tough fight to Mayweather. Then, he took a big risk against Austin Trout and deserves credit for that.

Some guys (me included), think he caught Maravilla at the right time but 1) Cotto was considered past his prime 2) Martinez was favored 3) Cotto took on a guy that both Mayweather and Pacquiao avoided.

Finally, he made Canelo look awkward (a draw would not have shocked me). It’s always heartbreaking to see a great champion not ending his career on his own terms (B-Hop, Mosley and De La Hoya come to mind). I wish him the best.

I usually don’t care about these alphabet soup f__king vampires, except when they try to make good fights like Porter/Garcia and now Bivol/Barrera. Bivol looked like a beast in his last fight and Barrera is a very good test for him. I really hope that this fight can be made to see if the hype is real. Do you think the Russian is ready for the Cuban? How do you rank the top 175-pound prospects (Gvozdyk, Bivol, Beterbiev, Alvarez, Barrera etc…) in terms of resume/potential?

Finally, Loma vs. Rigo: Amazing! I have some reserve on Rigondeaux (age, inactivity…) but I believe that fight will be very special (but not as exciting like Salido/Roman). I don’t blame Lomachenko for the weight, because it’s Rigondeaux that refused the fight at 126 a few years ago. I pick the Matrix to win a close chess match decision and predict that haters will to pretend he was “EXPOOOOOSED”!

Mythical Matchups:

Cotto/Hatton @140

Cotto/Bradley @140

Cotto/JuanMa Marquez @140

Cotto/Crawford @140

Cotto/Paul Williams @147 (Cotto’s skills and power vs P-Will’s aggression and activity is one of my all time dream matchs)

Thanks. – Antoine Aubin

I’m gonna go with Cotto over Hatton by late stoppage (in a brutal war), Bradley over Cotto by controversial split nod (in a very good fight), Cotto over JMM by close decision in a power-boxing exhibition, and P-Will over Cotto by late stoppage or close decision in a “punishing” (pun intended) fight.

Regarding the Loma-Rigo. Even if Lomachenko ices Rigondeaux, he’s going to get s__t from his haters and from the Cult of Rigo. They’re going to say it wasn’t fair because it took place at 130 pounds. If Loma wins a decision and it’s even mildly competitive, his haters are gonna say Rigo was robbed. If Loma wins a lopsided decision, they’re gonna say that he waited until Rigo got “old” and that the Cuban WOULD HAVE outpointed him had the fight happened a few years ago.

And regardless of how Loma wins, the Ukrainian’s diehard fans will rub in it and lord it over Rigo’s fans as much as they can.

Anyway, Rigo and Loma fanatics can talk as much s__t as they want to each other. I’m not going to pay any of that silliness any mind. I’m going to enjoy watching Salido-Roman, Farmer-Ogawa, Vargas-Smith, Shafikov-Alvarado and Munguia-Valenzuela here in Las Vegas tomorrow night, and then I’m going to enjoy witnessing Saunders-Lemieux in Laval, Canada next Saturday.

(Cotto’s) resume at 140/147 pounds is impressive. He fought four unbeaten future titleholders (Quintana, Malignaggi, Torres and Maussa) and two still-dangerous former champs (Judah and Mosley), so I’m certainly not hating on it. If you know anyone that is, do your duty and ridicule them.

He declined a little bit after the Margarito and PacMan fights, but still gave a tough fight to Mayweather. That he did. And it should be noted that Floyd was never going to fight Antonio and was committed to staying the f__k away from the 2009-2010 version of Manny.

Then, he took a big risk against Austin Trout and deserves credit for that. Agreed.

Some guys (me included), think he caught Maravilla at the right time but 1) Cotto was considered past his prime 2) Martinez was favored 3) Cotto took on a guy that both Mayweather and Pacquiao avoided. True, true and somewhat true. (I don’t want to say that Floyd and Manny “avoided” Sergio because they had other options and there wasn’t a huge demand for them to challenge the middleweight champ, but they certainly weren’t eager to fight him.)

Finally, he made Canelo look awkward (a draw would not have shocked me). I didn’t think it was that close, but Cotto acquitted himself well in that fight.

It’s always heartbreaking to see a great champion not ending his career on his own terms (B-Hop, Mosley and De La Hoya come to mind). I wish him the best. Don’t cry too much for Cotto. He’s in a good place and he’s going to be just fine. He didn’t stick around until he was completely shot and physically damaged and he made a lot of money (especially with the final bouts of his career).

Bivol looked like a beast in his last fight and Barrera is a very good test for him. I agree.

I really hope that this fight can be made to see if the hype is real. Do you think the Russian is ready for the Cuban? How do you rank the top 175-pound prospects (Gvozdyk, Bivol, Beterbiev, Alvarez, Barrera etc…) in terms of resume/potential? Well, these guys are all top-10 contenders, not prospects. I think Barrera, Beterbiev and Alvarez have the strongest resumes, and Bivol and Gvozdyk have more potential. Gvozdyk has a good mix of athleticism, technique and experience. I really view him as the “sleeper” of the division. Bivol appears to be the most naturally talented and have the most star potential because of his style and age, but we still need to see him kick ass against a live opponent and Barrera would certainly give him a test. (And, yes, I think he’s ready for that test.)

 

RIGONDEAUX IS READY

Dear Dougie,

I hope this email finds you well.

Disclaimer I am a big Rigo fan. I do consider him the underdog Saturday night but only because of the significant move up in weight. It seems unheard of among the lighter weights for someone of Rigo’s age to move up two weight classes. Other than Barney Ross moving up from lightweight to welterweight or Duran’s climb to middleweight it seems unprecedented. Can you provide both some historical context and what would be a similar jump in the upper-weight classes (light heavy to heavyweight)?

After seeing Rigo’s media workout, the way he moved the heavy bag and his sublime footwork on the pads makes me think he is much more than a long-shot. People did not give him a chance against Donaire either. How does this fight differ? All the best. – Aaron from Miami

Loma-Rigo is different from Donaire-Rigo because Lomachenko was a far superior amateur boxer than Donaire and has a much better foundation than the talented Filipino fighter. As gifted and formidable as Donaire was, Loma is better in terms of his technique and offensive/defensive creativity. I also think the Ukrainian is more mature and grounded than Donaire was in 2013.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Lomachenko won’t be challenged by Rigondeaux, but I don’t think we can compare those two fights. Lomachenko doesn’t fight or think anything like Donaire did in 2013.

I agree that Rigo looks great on the heavy bag and the mitts, but keep in mind that a bulked-up body does nothing to increase one’s ability to take a punch. Oh, and mitts and bags don’t hit back.

It seems unheard of among the lighter weights for someone of Rigo’s age to move up two weight classes. It’s rare but not unheard of.

Other than Barney Ross moving up from lightweight to welterweight or Duran’s climb to middleweight it seems unprecedented. Your mention of Ross reminds me that in 1938, fellow all-time great Henry Armstrong, the reigning featherweight champ at the time, challenged him (and beat him) for the welterweight title. So, there ya go. That was quite a jump for a lighter-weight standout (although I should note that Armstrong only weighed-in at 133 pounds for that fight).

Can you provide both some historical context and what would be a similar jump in the upper-weight classes (light heavy to heavyweight)? Sure, Rigo is basically leap-frogging one weight class (featherweight) to get to Loma. That’s what Bernard Hopkins did when he challenged Antonio Tarver for the light heavyweight crown. The recently deposed middleweight champ, who was even older than Rigo is now, leap-frogged the super middleweight division to shock the boxing world yet again. Roy Jones Jr., the reigning light heavyweight champ, skipped over the cruiserweight division to challenge WBA heavyweight beltholder John Ruiz in 2003. Shane Mosley skipped the 140-pound division when he challenged Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC welterweight title in 2000 (although the former IBF lightweight titleholder had a couple tune-up bouts at welterweight). Tommy Hearns had a couple fights at middleweight (including his epic shootout with Marvin Hagler) before he won the WBC light heavyweight title by stopping Denis Andries in 10 rounds in early 1987, but he was still defending his WBC junior middleweight belt in 1986.

 

ROOTING FOR RIGO

Hi Doug.

Although Vasyl Lomachenko is must see TV, I am rooting for Guillermo Rigondeaux this Saturday.

I just think that he has been horribly treated in his career with Top Rank, as well HBO, if my understanding is correct, dropping him for being “boring,” in a strange case of punishing accomplishment. Since then he has been treading water, fighting sporadically against uninspiring opponents, while Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz all avoided him.

Thing is, Rigo is simply too good for his own good. Apparently he does not bring enough excitement, neither does he have a polarizing personality a la Mayweather to make for box office appeal. As a result, nobody is going to make a huge pay day facing him. Add to that the fact that they will probably lose and you have the most avoided man in boxing. So much for legacy and proving yourself, the “boxing is a business” ethos seems to be far stronger.

I know I am not in the majority with this opinion and while I agree that all professional sports are a business, it should not only be about that. As for Rigondeaux being “boring,” I don’t agree. While I appreciate a Gatti-Ward type tear up as much as all other fans, boxing isn’t only about that. I enjoyed watching his befuddling of Donaire and I think he just needs to be matched right to make for compelling fights. Like you, I prefer a boxer-puncher type but I appreciate all facets of the sport and have an appreciation for a pure boxer as well. I was a big fan of Pernell Whitaker back in the day. Or maybe it is simply a case of admiring traits in others that you are lacking in. I did some boxing, sparring in the gym type of stuff when I was in the military and let me tell you, I made Vinny Maddalone look like Willie Pep!

I like Lomachenko but I would like nothing more to see Rigondeaux “stick it to the man” by sinking another Top Rank golden boy. Whether he can do that is entirely a different story.

He is up against it. Eight pounds is a lot for the little guys. Lomachenko is younger, bigger and has the career momentum. One has to wonder what the inactivity might have done to Rigondeaux, even though he doesn’t show signs of slipping. Do you think that there could be some wear and tear on Rigo?

If there are any weaknesses in Lomachenko, it may be that he doesn’t like too much pressure as can be seen in his loss against Salido. However, the Lomachenko of today is a far more seasoned pro and Rigondeaux and Salido are not even on the same planet as far as styles go. What weaknesses can you spot in Loma’s make up?

In the chin department, Lomachenko is definitely superior. Salido couldn’t budge him while Rigo has been down several times in his career, even though those were of the flash knockdown variety.

Lomachenko simply needs to do what he always does to win, which is to let the punches go in bunches but he must not fall into the trap of over thinking. He will need to get out of his own comfort zone and initiate if he is going to make Rigo uncomfortable. The big question is whether he will be able to cut off the ring.

Rigondeaux will need to control the distance at all times and keep Lomachenko at the end of his jab while throwing in his southpaw left at every opportunity he gets. He shouldn’t engage Lomachenko on the inside and he must make sure to win the rounds decisively. Do you think he even stands a chance of winning a decision, judging being what it is?

Will Lomachenko blast out Rigo as many seem to think? I would be very impressed if he did, but I don’t think so. I see it more or less like you do, expecting both fighters to be tentative in the beginning, waiting to see what the other will do. I think that Rigo will have some success with his jab and possibly shade the first half of the fight but at some point Lomachenko will hurt him. I don’t think that he will find the combination to end a Rigondeaux that will do everything to survive but it will be enough to pull ahead over the second half of the fight.

I am going with Lomachenko to win a close decision in a chess match type of fight.

Any chance of Rigo fighting Zolani Tete if he doesn’t get badly beaten?

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

Let me tell you something that I’ve expressed several times via social media, Droeks, I would be more intrigued by Rigo vs. Tete at 122 pounds than I am currently with Loma vs. Rigo at 130. And I would be more into Loma vs. Miguel Berchelt at 130 than the Top Rank/ESPN main event on Saturday.

I’ve heard the “Rigo-as-victim” speech many times over the years, and I think his sympathizers make some valid points. The door was shut on him rather quickly by Top Rank and HBO (although his HBO-televised 12 rounder with Joseph Agbeko was one of the worst stinkers of the 2010s), and he was indeed avoided by Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz. However, during the time those three 122-pound standouts ducked him, I think he could have fought more often and could have faced better opposition than Hisashi Amagasa, Drian Francisco and James Dickens. I also think he’s squandered his share of opportunities – such as the Francisco fight, which was on the Cotto-Canelo PPV undercard and was blatant “lay-up” that was set up for him by Roc Nation and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (which probably wouldn’t have OK’d an opponent like that for any other world-class fighter). In case you forgot, Rigo stank out the joint against a dude who was one bout removed from being sparked in one round at bantamweight.

Do you think that there could be some wear and tear on Rigo? No, but I think ring rust could be a factor tomorrow night.

What weaknesses can you spot in Loma’s make up? I don’t see any glaring weaknesses.

Do you think he even stands a chance of winning a decision, judging being what it is? I believe the odds are definitely stacked against Rigo, but I don’t think Loma will need any “gifts.”

Will Lomachenko blast out Rigo as many seem to think? I have no idea. I don’t see that happening. Then again, as much as you and I and other want to view this bout as a “chess match,” the truth is that it’s a prize fight. They’re throwing punches at each other, and s__t happens when you do that.

 

ARE THERE ANY PPV PLAYERS LEFT?

In the Monday mailbag, a question was asked regarding the viability of HBO boxing.  Let me ask a similar question, with Money and Pacman retiring, how many boxers can do 300,000 PPV buys almost irrespective of the opponent. How many matchups can do 1,000,000 PPV buys? I used to be an active buyer. But, with the superstars demanding most of the purse, and the undercards dwindling to mostly non-elite matchups, I went from 6 purchases a year to none over the last several years.

Boxing’s biggest challenge seems to be building the next set of can’t miss superstars. Canelo Alvarez may be one. Ward is a great fighter, but, he doesn’t generate a lot of buzz. GGG is a great fighter, but, how many fights does he have left? Are there great ones to generate numbers?

Thanks for the great work over the years. – The other Dougie

Sup Dougie.

Right now, Canelo is the only boxer that can generate 300,000+ PPV buys regardless of who he fights. (Unless Mayweather comes back, which will probably happen.)

The only boxing matchups that can exceed 1 million buys are Canelo-Golovkin II and Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder IF that heavyweight showdown is properly built up.

The good news is that Canelo is only 27. Joshua is 28. And there are other potential stars between the ages of 27-30, such as Terence Crawford, Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman and Charlo twins. They just need to fight more often and fight each other if they occupy the same division. A matchup between the winners of Crawford vs. Jeff Horn and Spence vs. Thurman would not only lead to an undisputed welterweight champ, but could potentially be a pay-per-view main event.

But promoters need to work together for that to happen and networks can’t tie certain fighters down to exclusive contracts. I also believe that U.S. promoters need to lower the price of PPV shows and stack more quality bouts the way MMA does. Imagine if Top Rank and Golden Boy got together to load up a PPV card that was co-produced, distributed and promoted by ESPN? How many buys would an ESPN PPV tripleheader topped by Crawford vs. Lucas Matthysse, Jorge Linares vs. Lomachenko and Oscar Valdez vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. garner if it was priced at $29.95 or $34.95? Think about the undercard bouts that could be added to a card like that (say Andy Vences vs. Ryan Garcia or Lamont Roach Jr.). Think about the potential for an on-going, perhaps quarterly, PPV series that is fed by the current GBP and Top Rank shows on ESPN.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer

 

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