Top Rank Boxing on ESPN results: Vasyl Lomachenko makes Guillermo Rigondeaux quit in six
“Maybe I change my second name. Now my name is ‘NoMasChenko.'”
After six rounds of dominance from Vasyl Lomachenko, on Saturday night, Guillermo Rigondeaux remained on his stool, as his corner told the ringside official that the Cuban was unable to continue, marking the fourth straight opponent to bow out between rounds against the Ukrainian boxing phenom and helping create a new moniker.
The main event of an ESPN card held at the Madison Square Garden Theater, in New York City, the fight was the first match-up ever between two-time Olympic gold medalists and, after a first round in which these chess masters placed their positions, Lomachenko was the first to let his hands go in the second round and never looked back.
Rigondeaux, who moved up two weight classes to take on the challenge, stood his ground in the middle of the ring with Lomachenko throughout but, after first feeling some consecutive left hands toward the end of the second, the Cuban started to resort to some dirty tactics. Rigondeaux held the back of Lomachenko’s head in the waning seconds of that round and unleashed his left for the first time in the fight. Whether it was holding, straying low with a shot or two or trying to hit on the break, Rigondeaux was showing his frustration as the 37-year-old’s reflexes looked shoddy compared to the man in front of him, who, of course, was also bigger.
In the sixth, referee Steve Willis docked Rigondeaux a point for his extracarricular activities and also let Lomachenko get away with a late shot after the bell, as perhaps some sort retribution for the Cuban’s actions. Until that point, Lomachenko, 10-1 (8), used tremendous footwork to get around a defensive-minded Rigondeaux, who often bent low at the waist and forced Vasyl to reach for his angles. Lomachenko was successful for the most part for the fight and, although he didn’t seriously hurt Rigondeaux in the fight, the win toed the line of being an outclassing until it’s abrupt ending.
“He’s a good fighter. He’s a top fighter,” Lomachenko said about Rigondeaux. “He’s a king in boxing but he’s a king in his weight category. (Junior lightweight)’s not his size; it’s not his weight – so it’s not a big win for me because it’s another weight category.”
With the win, Lomachenko, successfully defended his WBO junior lightweight title a fourth time.
Rigondeaux, 17-1 (11), said he injured his left hand in the fight, which led to his decision to not continue. With the defeat, Rigondeaux also lost his WBA junior featherweight title – an abrupt ruling made by the sanctioning body a week before the fight.
“I lost but it was because of my hand. In the second round, I injured the top of it and I could not continue,” said Rigondeaux. “It wasn’t about the weight; it was just the hand. I do give Lomachenko credit though – he is an excellent boxer. He’s a very technical fighter. Very quick. Very explosive.”
Rounding out the televised, three-fight undercard, featherweight prospect Michael Conlan earned a shut-out unanimous decision (60-54 on all cards) win over Luis Molina to remain unbeaten.
Conlan, 5-0 (4), showed versatility in the rout. Switching to the southpaw stance in the second round, the infamous Irish Olympian out-boxed his Argentinian counterpart easily either way. Molina, 7-4-1 (2), couldn’t get out of the way of Conlan’s right jab, as a lefty, and was taking any and all return shots rather well, other than a low blow in the fifth round. Molina, 29, who has never been knocked out, only looked hurt in one moment, after that low blow, in which a counter uppercut landed flush on his chin. Fighting out of Norwalk, California, Conlan, 26, went rounds for the first time in a career birthed just nine months ago, at the same venue, and said afterward he felt ready to go up to eight-rounders.
Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz walloped Bryant Cruz to an eventual third round stoppage, remaining undefeated and winning a WBO regional junior lightweight trinket.
Fighting out of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, Diaz 22-0 (14), scored three knockdowns of Diaz before the fateful third, the first being a short right hand in the opening round. Midway through the second, a huge counter left hand turned Cruz’s legs to jelly. After belly-flopping to the mat, Cruz got up from the shot looking to land a game-changing punch of his own but Diaz was too sharp and an accumulation of shots had the New York native on the canvas again before round’s end. Cruz, 18-3 (9), who was a late replacement opponent, got up reluctantly, as the 10-second warning clapped, but quickly in the third, referee Harvey Dock stepped in right after Diaz wobbled him badly again with a left.
In the opening bout of the ESPN telecast, featherweight Shakur Stevenson earned a stoppage win over Oscar Mendoza after referee Sparkle Lee abruptly waved the bout off in the second round.
Stevenson, 4-0 (2), was in the middle of exploiting Mendoza’s body when Lee stopped the fight before there was even a knockdown. Regardless, Stevenson turned in one of the most intense performances in his fourth professional fight. Molina, 4-3 (2), who had never been stopped before, of course, objected to Lee, but the 26-year-old wasn’t showing much pushback, as Stevenson freely did what he wanted for the entire contest. Stevenson, 20, caps off a year in which he made his professional debut, this time fighting near his hometown of Newark, New Jersey.