For my money, Vasyl Lomachenko is the most talented Boxer in the world, and by extension, he is also the most talented martial artist in the world. When I mean talented, I’m talking about a mixture of technical ability(the form with which one execute’s the gestures), athleticism and ring intelligence.
In Boxing there’s an old saying, “a good big man always beats a good little man“. And what this means is that when two opponents have a similar level of skill, the naturally bigger man usually wins out. For that reason, and since GOD didn’t create all men alike, Boxing has 17 weight divisions in order to accommodate fighters of all sizes, ranging from “Minimumweight“(no more than 105 lbs) all the way up to Heavyweight(above 200 lbs).
When matching evenly skilled fighters, a difference of just 4 pounds can mean a world of difference, reason why only the very best can become champions in several weight classes. They do so because they have a body with room to grow and because their talent can often overcome naturally bigger but less skilled adversaries.
The Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux is the best Junior-Featherweight(122 lbs) in the world. Directly above his weight division is the Featherweight(126 lbs) division, and above that one is the Junior-Lightweight(130 lb) division. And at Junior-Lightweight, the Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko is the undisputed king.
This coming Saturday December 9th “Loma” and “Rigo” will meet at 130 pounds, and Rigondeaux is coming up not one but two weight divisions. This is an historic fight because both men are two time Olympic Gold medalists. “Loma” won gold in 2008 in Beijing and also in 2012 in London, while “Rigo” won Gold in 2000 in Sydney and in 2004 in Athens.
In the amateur ranks, Lomachenko had an otherworldly score of 396(three hundred and ninety six!) wins and only 1(one)loss(avenged twice). While Rigo also compiled a fabulous amateur score of 475 wins against only 12 losses.
As professionals, Lomachenko’s has had 10 fights, won 9(7 by KO) and lost only once(a disputed loss in only his 2nd pro fight), while Rigo remains perfect with 17 fights, 17 wins and 11 of those by knockout.
In Boxing, there are the previously mentioned 17 weight divisions, and for each division there are 4 “respected” sanctioning bodies or associations/organizations, namely, the WBC, IBF, WBA and WBO. What this means, is that in theory Boxing can have up to 68 world champions. But, regardless of the title holders or champions, usually fans and journalists alike have an idea of who is the best fighter in each of the 17 weight divisions. At 122 lbs it’s clearly Rigo and at 130 lbs it’s unarguably Loma.
Beyond who in theory is the best in each weight division, there’s also a perception of who is the best fighter(s) in the sport independent of their size or weight. Meaning, if all fighters were the same size, who would be regarded as the best overall fighter, the most skilled. And to that fighter goes the unofficial designation of the best “Pound for Pound“.
Choosing the best fighter “Pound for Pound” is not always a clear cut decision, since you have to take into account their skill, the quality of the fighters they’ve have beaten, etc.
For me, currently the best fighter “Pound for Pound” is the unified Middleweight(160 lbs) Champion Kazakhstani Gennady Golovkin. Second would be the unified Junior-Welterweight Champion Terence Crawford. And at third I think I’d have the junior-Lightweight WBO Champion Vasyl Lomachenko.
I hesitate to place “Loma” already at 3rd for the simple reason that he’s only had 10 professional fights, but, if you’re judging him purely on skill and athletic ability, in my mind there’s no question. He may not(yet?) be the planet’s best fighter “Pound for Pound” but he is the most talented fighter in the world “Pound for Pound”. And if he keeps fighting and winning and against better opponents, it will be only a matter of time before he is universally regarded as the best.
Rigondeaux possesses a more defensive style than Loma. Rigo is more patient, perhaps more crafty and experienced, while Loma has a very entertaining crowd-pleasing an dynamic approach to fighting. Loma is 29 years old and Rigondeaux allegedly is 37, but I don’t know how reliable(meaning no disrespect) such documentations are in Cuba, since Rigo looks older than 37.
But, one thing is unquestionable, Rigondeaux, just like Loma is also one of the best fighters in the world “Pound for Pound”, he may be as high as 4th on that list. I myself have him somewhere in the top 8 “P4P”. And for this matter alone, a collision between 2 of the best fighters in the world “Pound for Pound”, make fight very much worth watching for any true aficionado.
Unlike the mindless(but extremely well marketed), and for the most part, unskilled violence in the UFC, this will be a contest between two supremely talented technicians.
Who will win? On paper everything points towards Lomachenko getting the W. Loma is the naturally bigger man(although Rigo looks good and comfortable with the added 8 lbs) and quite possibly the physically stronger man. Vasyl is also the younger man, the taller man and he is clearly the more mobile/agile athlete of the two. He seems to have more stamina and perhaps a style that pleases the judges more.
But, an upset could be brewing. Rigo despite being the shorter man, he does have a longer reach(distance from one’s armpit to one’s fist), he might have as much punching power as the Ukrainian, he is more experienced and his training camp seems to have gone very well.
Loma on the other hand, looked a bit sloppy in his last fight back in August. His defense wasn’t particularly tight, he seems to be goofing around a bit too much in training, and his motor coordination hasn’t impressed me in recent training.
Saturday can’t come soon enough. History!