Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux Is Guaranteed Must-See TV

    Vasyl Lomachenko became a champion in the first professional fight, and a world champion in his third. He has two gold medals and is one of the most decorated amateur boxers of all time. With only 10 professional fights and at 29 years old, he is already considered one of the greatest fighters ever. He is currently number two on the Boxing Writers’ best pound-for-pound list, second only to repeat king, Terence Crawford and ahead of middleweight juggernaut Gennady Golovkin.

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    With only 10 professional fights, one loss, and seven knockouts, he is an enigmatic embodiment of perfection personified in a short career burst. Lomachenko is a testament to the prowess of the Eastern European fighters of today and a homage to their predecessors in the Klitschko brothers. With Gennady Golovkin and Aleksandr Usyk out here wrecking shop and taking names, there is an attention to detail that the Ukranians and Kazakhstan people understand universally.

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    Enter Cuba’s two-time gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux. In 2007, he, along with other notable boxers like Yunier Dorticos, defected from Cuba after a long and decorated amateur boxing career and started his life anew in Miami as a professional fighter. 

    From the outset, Rigondeaux has shown why he claimed two gold medals, going undefeated and becoming a world champion in only his seventh professional bout. He has held multiple championships at the super bantamweight level and is considered 7th on the current pound-for-pound list, right behind fellow undefeated Mikey Garcia. 

    The fact that these two are finally going to fight is like a video game fantasy matchup come true for most fight fans. Lomachenko is a beast at featherweight and junior lightweight and had no reason to ever go down in weight to take on super-fight challengers of which Rigondeaux would be the standout from the pack.

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    However, Rigondeaux, in true warrior spirit stepped up in weight to make this fight happen, two weight classes to be exact. Anyone who knows boxing, and if Roger Mayweather’s expertise is to be adhered to most probably do not, that is a monumental challenge when facing anyone let alone the man whose nicknames vary from “Hi-Tech” to “The Matrix”. 

    Still for Rigondeaux, the chance to dethrone one of the biggest threats in boxing and claim his dominance at even a higher weight class was too huge of a chance to miss and it has the makings of becoming the fight of the year at the end of the year.  The reception of the fight has been at a fever pitch for true fans of pugilism who understand the magnitude of the first time two gold medalists are facing each other.

    However, with the lack of trash-talking and mutual respect shown, it has done very little to generate interest from the boxing laymen.  This is where the broadcast deal struck between ESPN and promoter Top Rank comes in to play as a difference maker. 

    In a world where shadowy boxing impresarios reversed the cable TV narrative, Top Rank has a multi-format deal with ESPN that gets its roster many free eyeballs and expands its market share. 

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    A fight like Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux will do exponential wonders for both their careers, especially if Rigondeaux can overcome the weight advantage of Lomachenko and defeat a man comparable to the character “Neo” in the movie “The Matrix”. 

    Look at the results of Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn. It was broadcast live from Australia and the loss experienced by Pacquiao ignited the ire of most, while making a new star of the relative unknown, Jeff Horn. Sprinkle in the audaciously infantile commentary of professional bloviator Stephen A. Smith and you have a polarizing model that all will watch just because; its must-see TV.

    There is a residual effect felt in combat sports where co-signing by fellow viewers sparks interest during live sportscasting. It happened for the UFC during The Ultimate Fighter season one finale when Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar had their epic war that launched a billion-dollar MMA business. 

    Fights like Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux will do the same for an ever-evolving boxing broadcast model and regardless of who the winner is, the KO power alone demands your attention.

    Again, as boxing careens into the end of the year, the world is blessed to have Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux at the world’s greatest arena, Madison Square Garden, as its swan song.      

    Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. RhettĀ hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.