Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux go for the gold at MSG on December 9
Top-rated pound-for-pound fighters, and former amateur legends Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, 9-1 (7), and Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux, 17-0 (11), will face each other on Saturday, December 9, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
The much-anticipated fight, a bout that easily sold out a couple of months in advance, will see two of the best boxers to ever emerge from the amateurs, face off against each other as professionals.
Lomachenko left the amateurs sporting an amazing record of 396-1 while Rigondeaux left the unpaid ranks with an equally impressive 463-12 ledger.
On Saturday Lomachenko will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against Rigondeaux , who currently holds the WBA junior featherweight title.
Lomachenko fast-tracked himself into one of the most respected boxers working today after turning pro in the fall of 2013. Looking to fight for a world title in his debut, he had to settle for a shot at a regional trinket. While he would drop a split decision to rugged Mexican Orlando Salido in his second bout, his only career loss as a pro, he did win a title in his third outing, beating Gary Russell Jr. for the WBO featherweight title.
After sucessfully defending the title three times, Lomachenko picked up his second world title, beating Roman Martinez in 2016 to capture the WBO junior lightweight strap.
Fast forward to today and Lomachenko now looks to make the fourth defense of his title against a fighter considered one of the most talented boxers in the world.
However Lomachenko, who often talks about his legacy in the sport, knows these high-profile fights serve as the platform he needs to indeed address his legacy.
Simply put, he knows that, to establish one’s place in the history books, you have to fight the very best.
Rigondeaux, a stylish and extremely talented boxer, comes into the bout with the WBA, WBO and THE RING Magazine junior featherweight titles in his trophy case.
Give credit where credit is due. No one can accuse Rigondeaux of looking for an easy out, as he is jumping two weight classes to secure the marquee match-up.
Both fighters, considered the very best of the lighter weight fighters in the world, are excited to get in the ring with a possible spot atop of the pound-for-pound list awaiting the winner.
In pre-fight interviews, both fighters, and their managers, expressed confidence that they will show the world why they are considered the very best.
Both boxers will still have numerous options after this fight, win or lose. However, how they perform on this stage, the biggest up to this point in their careers, will certainly determine a major point in their career timelines.
“It will be a big battle for boxing fans and boxing history,” said Lomachenko. “This battle will open our maximum potential. It will be the best New Year’s present for boxing fanatics. Trust me on this one!”
Added Lomachenko manager Egis Klimas, “I am excited about Vasiliy stepping back in the ring before the year is over. It is a great fight for all boxing lovers and the fans from around the world who asked for it,” he said. “It is a historic bout for boxing, where, for the first time, two boxers, two world champions, each holding two Olympic Gold medals, will meet in the professional ring. I am looking forward to seeing it.”
Meanwhile Cuban-born, Miami, Florida resident Rigondeaux made it clear he is looking to take his place among the best of his era, off of a Lomachenko victory.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this historic fight on ESPN because I’ve had my eye on fighting Vasyl Lomachenko for a long time,” said Rigondeaux. “I can’t wait to make a statement on December 9th in New York City. Weight classes don’t win fights; fighters do, and I look forward to delivering the best performance of my career, beating a fellow legendary Olympian, in Lomachenko, and solidifying my place as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of this era.”
Rigondeaux has long been lauded for his immense talent in the ring by boxing purists but has yet to capture the large market audience that just might come for him off of a win over a star like Lomachenko.
Rigondeaux manager Alex Bornote added that this was indeed the blockbuster fight his client had been craving since he first turned pro, in 2009.
“This fight against Vasyl Lomachenko is the marquee challenge that Guillermo has been coveting,” said Bornote. “Throughout Guillermo’s career, he has never backed down from any fighter or weight class restriction, so we’re very excited to get to work. It’s going to be a battle but Guillermo will make Cuba, Miami, and all of his fans worldwide proud when he beats Lomachenko on December 9th.”