On Saturday night there were many upsets in the boxing world. James DeGale lost the IBF super middleweight belt to a man perceived to be a journeyman in Caleb Truax. The legendary Orlando Salido was knocked out in the ninth round by Mickey Roman and immediately announced his retirement and Philadelphia’s Tevin Farmer was egregiously robbed by the Las Vegas judging system earlier during the same event.
The world, however, was tuned in to the biggest fight of the weekend, Vasiliy “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko vs. Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux. Taking place at the mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden, the event was anticipated by aficionados and laymen alike based on their dual Olympic gold medal wins and fierce yet technical fighting styles.
IT’S FIGHT DAY! Vasyl Lomachenko Vs Guillermo Rigondeaux – Masters of the sweet science go head to head tonight in Madison Square Garden, New York. Who wins? https://t.co/L2TFd6rdlV
The fact that it was the first time two 2x Olympic gold medal winners would face each other was no small feat either and with fellow Olympians like Shakur Stevenson and Mikaela Mayer on the card as well as Claressa Shields in the building, all roads led to this being a great night for boxing.
Although, Rigondeaux stepped up two weight classes to challenge Lomachenko for his WBO junior lightweight belt. He is 8 years older than the Ukranian champion and still many believed that he might be the one to match Orlando Salido and give Loma his second loss.
Then the fight began.
Immediately, it was clear that the respect, although mutual was secondary to Lomchenko’s penchant to be masterful offensively. After the initial feeling out process in round one, quickly Lomachenko pressed the attack and although most shots hit Rigondeaux’s defense the fight still felt very even going into round three. It was apparent that Rigondeaux’s defensive reflexes was close to Mayweather level, however, Lomachenko still landed many in the flurry of shots he rained down from above as Rigondeaux crouched and attempted to avoid the barrage.
From the fourth through the sixth rounds it was all Lomachenko as Rigondeaux tried his hardest to hit Lomachenko but finding himself unsuccessful in that endeavor continued a pattern of holding in his frustration. It got to the point where referee Harvey Dock, who had given multiple warnings when it was obvious Rigondeaux’s strategy was to frustrate Loma by holding more than striking him, took a point from an already behind Rigondeaux.
Then the sixth round came an went with Rigonedeaux seemingly bested although his defensive reflexes were amazing, his offense just could not catch up. Finally, at the end of the sixth round after a weird pause before the start of the seventh, the referee indicated that he fight was being waved off and Rigondeaux was quitting on his stool.
After the 4th consecutive opponent throws in the towel against Lomachenko, the WBO junior lightweight champion has an idea. https://t.co/UkLsL3H68G
It was the fourth opponent in a row that was stopped either by the referee or themselves in a trend dating back to Nicholas Walters in 2016 and twice earlier this year. The surprising part is that Rigondeaux, who was formerly undefeated, would quit anything involving combat sports given his reputation as a scrappy technician. It was revealed that Rigondeaux had hurt his left wrist/hand during the bout and began complaining of the pain after the third round to his coaches. Still it begs the debate regarding a true warrior’s spirit and what is acceptable practice for a professional fighter that is in pain.
Stephen A. was disappointed Rigondeaux couldn’t give Lomachenko a challenge. https://t.co/FT51bKISEH
The life of a prizefighter is a risky lifestyle and those who indulge sign up for any and all dangers presented. It harkens back to Sugar Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran II where mysteriously during the 8th round of their rematch, Duran stopped fighting after being, frustrated with Leonard’s style and reportedly said, “No Mas” and begged out of the fight. On Duran’s record it is listed as a technical knockout. On Rigonedeaux’s record, him not showing up for the start of the seventh round, is listed as a retirement on his stool, but now questions exist concerning Rigondeaux’s legacy. Is it tarnished?
You can say that his age and longevity were a concern for both the fighter and his cornermen. Why risk a lengthier injured reserved process when you can halt the fight and return back to super bantamweight where you really belong? Still, fighters are theoretically supposed to continue to fight against all odds.
The essence of being a professional fighter is that you look death and severe injury in the eyes and laugh. It is the admiration of such courage that propels the industry financially and makes heroes out of men and women who fight to survive. “Duran” Rigondeaux will lose a bit of his cache from this loss and Lomachenko like Leonard will go on to bigger heights and probably be just as acclaimed and celebrated career-wise.
Still, like Duran, I believe unless Rigondeaux retires, he will still be perceived as one of the best boxers that ever lived and his legacy like Duran will live on positively in spite of this athletic indiscretion. No one can negate how injured he truly is or diminish the beauty of his career thus far but as fans we will always hold our fighters in higher regard in the face of imminent danger and for that Rigondeaux has lost a few stripes in the corps of pugilism’s true enthusiasts.