December is turning out to be quite the month for the sport of boxing. First, there is Miguel Cotto’s retirement fight at Madison Square Garden on December 2nd. Then, on December 8th super lightweight contender Vladimir Baez takes his act to Japan, followed on December 9th by Miguel Berchelt putting an 11-fight winning streak – and the WBC super featherweight title – on the line against the dangerous Orlando Salido.
Yet, there is one December fight that has flown under the radar to some degree. A fight between two of the sport’s biggest punchers, and two men with near flawless skillsets in what could be an 11th hour candidate for fight of the year. On December 9th “The World’s Most Famous Arena” will host another highly anticipated contest as two former Olympic gold medalists, WBO junior lightweight champion Vasyl Lomnachenko, and Guillermo Rigondeaux do battle.
Rigondeaux (17-0-0, 1 no decision, 11 knockouts) has established himself as one of the sports premiere fighters since making his professional debut back in 2009. The 37-year-old Cuban defector (now living in Miami) has held the WBA and lineal super bantamweight titles for over 2,500 days. He also held the WBC Silver and Ring Magazine titles in that same weight class. Now given the alphabet soup status of today’s title belts, that may not seem impressive, however, it’s worth noting that to collect those belts Rigondeaux had to go through some top-notch marquee opposition. Defeating the likes of Nonito Donaire, Roberto Marroquin, Rico Ramos and Ricardo Corboda to name a few.
The 2004 Olympic gold medalist is ranked as the No. 1 super bantamweight by ESPN, Ring Magazine, and BoxRec. Ring also has him as the No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer in the world while ESPN has him ranked at No. 7 in that same category. Now “El Chacal” is moving up two weight classes to challenge one of the hottest names to step in the ring in the last couple of years.
Enter Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1-0, 7 KO’s) is everything most trainers look for when molding a new fighter. He’s young (29-years-old), he’s fast, he punches with both power and speed, and he’s proven he can handle two different weight classes. The 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist won the WBO featherweight title in just his third professional fight. He relinquished the belt when he defeated Roman Martinez last year to claim his current title which he’s defending against Rigondeaux.
In addition to Martinez “Hi-Tech” has also overpowered the likes of Miguel Marriaga, Jason Sosa, Gary Russell Jr. and Orlando Salido. Not a bad resume for someone who’s only 10 fights into his career. Among junior lightweights Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 by BoxRec, ESPN and Ring. In the pound-for-pound section the Ukrainian native is ranked No. 2 by ESPN, No. 3 by Ring and No. 4 by BoxRec.
Our take on the fight, after the jump…