Much has been made of Vasyl Lomachenko’s lack of professional experience after his failure to win Orlando Salido’s WBO featherweight belt.
He demonstrated a lack of professional knowledge in terms of his inside game in particular, failing to tie up the stronger and more experienced inside fighter Salido. For the majority of the fight, the Ukrainian only threw punches in ones and twos, mainly to the head of Salido, which, while scoring points, failed to slow down the rugged Mexican.
In the 12th round, Lomachenko came out for the first time looking to damage Salido and he did. Throwing withering body shots, he visibly staggered the perpetual motion of the man from Sonora. It was too late though, with Salido surviving to win via a split decision.
His post fight interview, while magnanimous, showed that he did not comprehend the unwritten rules of prizefighting. Lomachenko was hit multiple times below the belt, but did not respond in kind. As legendary trainer Ray Arcel said, “He hit you low? Go hit him low”. It may not be the most sporting of acts, but boxing is a sport where no quarters are taken.
He continually looked to the referee for assistance regarding the low blows, but despite Laurence Cole’s poor officiating, professional referees are not as strict as the amateur officials. The Ukrainian learned this lesson the hard way.
However, one fight where his lack of professional smarts would not matter would be in a match with fellow amateur standout Guillermo Rigondeaux. The Cuban also showed the same frailties - albeit fleetingly - when he was knocked down by Nonito Donaire last year,while trying to step out of a clinch.
Having had 13 professional fights, Rigondeaux has more experience in the paid ranks. However, he is so drilled in his defensive technique through years of training in the Cuban amateur programme that he will almost certainly never change his style.
For the hardcore boxing fans, this is a mouth-watering contest. One could see a 12-round fencing match, with two grandmaster chess players looking for the perfect checkmate. Both southpaws, there would also be none of the foot tangling or head banging often associated with an orthodox vs southpaw matchup.
Opponents have a serious problem trying to get close to Rigondeaux because of his superb footwork and masterful sense of timing. In addition, he possesses knockout power in the left hand, which, when it lands, discourages his opponents from making forward movements, shown in his most recent contest with ‘come-forward’ fighter Joseph Agbeko.
However, as we have seen from the Salido fight, Lomachenko does not look to fight inside. This would surely create a slow paced encounter between two men who have a heightened understanding of angles and distance and display the true art of boxing.
There are only four pounds separating the two men, but Rigondeaux would have to move up for the fight to happen, which is questionable as he makes the super-bantamweight limit easily. If a catchweight limit could be agreed, it would provide a contrast of aesthetically beautiful boxing styles, which would, for the purists, be a fight for the ages.
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