Fresh off his 7th round stoppage win over Miguel Marriaga (25-3, 21 KOs) last Saturday night, WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) says it would be just as easy if he were fighting WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) in his next fight, which could take place in November or December on ESPN Boxing.
The 2-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Rigondeaux remains a very real possibility for Lomachenko if a unification fight against WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt can’t get made. I don’t know why the management for Berchelt would want anything to do with the 29-year-old Lomachenko. It’s a fight that would give Berchelt a nice payday, but it would also likely send him back to the contender ranks where the paydays would be considerably smaller than what he’s getting now as the WBC 130lb champion.
“For me it doesn’t matter. I will fight anybody. I want to fight and I want to unify titles. [If I fight] Rigondeaux I think it looks the same as this,” said Lomachenko after his win over Marriaga last Saturday night. “It is not my job [to find opponents]. My job is to work my best boxing in the ring.”
I don’t think it would be the same fighting Rigondeaux as it would against the over-matched featherweight Marriaga. Rigondeaux is a very good fighter, who has better hand speed and boxing ability than both Lomachenko and Marriaga. The thing that gives Lomachenko a good chance of winning against Rigondeaux is the weight, of course.
Rigondeaux fights in the 122 lb. division, and he would need to move up all the way to 130 to make the fight with Lomachenko. There will be no catch-weight or meeting halfway, as Lomachenko feels he doesn’t have to do any of those things to accommodate the 36-year-old Rigondeaux. If the Cuban fighter wants to fight him, then he needs to fight him at his weight or not at all. Rigondeaux will obviously sill take the fight, and he’s already said he would move up 2 weight classes to fight Lomachenko. The payday that Rigondeaux gets would clearly be too good for him to turn down the fight.
Rigondeaux loses nothing in going up to super featherweight to fight Lomachenko. Even if he gets beaten by Lomachenko, Rigondeaux might still be able to keep his World Boxing Association super bantamweight title. Of course, the WBA could choose to strip Rigondeaux of his belt if he loses to Lomachenko, but that’s not a big deal. Rigondeaux would quickly pick up a No.1 ranking with one of the sanctioning bodies at 122 and beat whoever the champion is to win another title. There’s nobody at super bantamweight that can beat Rigondeaux right now. The only guy that might give Rigondeaux a run for his money is WBO champion Jessie Magdaleno, who recently beat Nonito Donaire. Magdaleno is likely too slow to handle Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux believes he’ll knockout Lomachenko if/when the two of them face each other. Here’s what Rigondeaux said on his social media site last Saturday night after Lomachenko’s win over the hapless Marriaga:
“We all know he can fight, the problem is that he is fighting someone that is not fighting back and I will!” Rigondeaux said. “I will stop this guy. (to the fans) Stop booing Marriaga. 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. 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.”
Rigondeaux brings up a good point about Marriaga not fighting back. The 30-year-old Marriaga wasn’t throwing punches last night. He looked terrified, and fighting just to survive to the go the distance instead of to win. Marriaga looked like he didn’t belong inside the ring with Lomachenko, both in talent and in fighting spirit. What do you expect though? Top Rank picked out Marriaga from the losing ranks of the scrap heap, choosing to sign him as Lomachenko’s opponent after he had lost to one of their other fighters in their stable, WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez on April 22.
The brain trust of Top Rank seemed to be spinning their wheels in handpicking Marriaga instead of taking their time to find a more suitable opponent for Lomachenko to fight. Selecting Marriaga for Lomachenko to fight was a lazy way of finding an opponent. Top Rank had just seen Marriaga fight – and lose – to Oscar Valdez, so they obviously thought he would give Lomachenko a good test due to the problems he gave to Valdez. What they failed to realize is Valdez is a limited slugger, who has poor defensive skills, and who is not going to last long as a champion at featherweight without careful match-making. Marriaga was nowhere near good enough to give Lomachenko any problems.
“I think there are a few guys. There’s Rigondeaux if he answers Dino’s call. There’s [Orlando] Salido. And there’s [Miguel] Berchelt, who has a world title,” said Lomachenko in discussing his options for his next fight in November or December.
If Top Rank negotiates hard with Rigondeaux, then I don’t see a fight against Lomachenko taking place. Rigondeaux is already giving Lomachenko the advantage in weight by moving up all the way to 130 to make the fight happen. If the money for Rigondeaux to fight Lomachenko isn’t significant, then there’s little chance the fight is going to take place.
What Top Rank needs to understand is that for them to turn Lomachenko into a star, they can’t be cheap about it. They will need to overpay to get the quality guys to agree to fight him. If Top Rank believes they can turn Lomachenko into a huge attraction by putting him in against over-matched opposition like Miguel Marriaga on ESPN over and over again, then I think they’re sadly mistaken.
Last night’s Lomachenko-Marriaga was awful to watch. It lacked any sense of drama. It was just Lomachenko following a frightened and over-matched Marriaga around the ring, hitting him with rapid light punches, and showboating most of the time. It was not interesting to watch. The casual boxing fans saw what this writer saw, a boring one-sided fight involving a weak puncher in Lomachenko beating up on what appeared to be a 2nd tier fighter. The boxing fans that saw the Lomachenko-Marriaga fight were likely bored, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them turned the channel due to the lack of two-way action in the fight. The fights that turn someone into a star are competitive ones involving two evenly matched and highly respected fighters. Marriaga was the farthest thing from being a well-respected fighter. He was just a guy that was beaten by one of Top Rank’s stable fighters. If Top Rank doesn’t want to pay good money to lure the best fighters into the ring to fight Lomachenko, then the Ukrainian is never going to become a star. Boxing fans don’t like to see non-competitive fights. They’re not excited about watching some poor sap getting pounded by a weak puncher throwing rapid shots and showboating for the entire fight. It’s off putting.
Berchelt might not be well-known enough to do much for Lomachenko’s career. Orlando Salido would be a good choice for Lomachenko if Top Rank can pay him the money he’s asking for. Again, they would need to overpay him if they want Salido to agree to the fight. He already turned down $750,000 to fight Lomachenko this time. If Top Rank believes that Salido will take less to get the fight with Lomachenko in December, I think they’re kidding themselves. Salido is going to want to get paid top dollar for that fight.
Ultimately, I think Top Rank will try and turn Lomachenko into a star by doing it on the cheap, paying little money to the opponents they get for him to fight, hoping that he can become a star the easy way without a great expenditure of money. The results will be poor in my opinion. Lomachenko likely won’t become any more popular than he is now. His fighting style if not entertaining like guys like middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, who looks to destroy his opponents with big power shots. Golovkin entertains the fans. He doesn’t showboat his entire fights, and he doesn’t throw weak, tapping punches to try and impress the boxing fans. Golovkin knows what the fans want to see. They want to see him hit his opponents hard and knock them out. I think Lomachenko has things backwards in his head. He’s not seeing things clearly for what the fans want to see.
Marriaga was knocked down twice by Lomachenko in getting dropped in rounds 3 and 7. After Lomachenko knocked Marriaga down in the 3, he ran to the neutral corner and motioned for Marriaga to come to him. It was pure showboat from Lomachenko and not necessary. Lomachenko should have gone after Marriaga and looked to knock him out instead of trying to embarrass him.