For years, Guillermo Rigondeaux, his promoters, his manager and his trainers have complained about a lack of respect, about difficulty getting on television and how given a chance, he’d prove himself to be the best fighter in the world.
He got his chance Saturday in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York and he not only failed miserably, he flat out quit.
Vasyl Lomachenko put on a performance worthy of the build-up of the first match in pro boxing history that pitted double Olympic gold medal winners against each other. But it was as if there were only one man fighting.
Rigondeaux landed only 15 punches in six rounds, none of true significance, and he quit on his stool after the sixth, citing an injury to his left hand. He didn’t land more than three punches in any round, according to CompuBox.
Rigondeaux’s disgraceful decision took away some of the spotlight that deservedly belonged to Lomachenko, who did just about everything correctly in the bout.
Lomachenko used his brilliant footwork to create angles, landed the harder, cleaner punches and simply made the brilliant Cuban quit. It was the fourth fight in a row in which Lomachenko’s opponent quit on the stool.
“Maybe I should change my second name,” Lomachenko said. “My name is No-Mas-chenko.”
It would be appropriate, because Lomachenko beat the fight out of Rigondeaux, who was moving up from super bantamweight to challenge Lomachenko for the WBO junior lightweight championship.
Rigondeaux, who won Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004 and had a 463-12 record as an amateur, painted himself as the most avoided man in boxing. He entered the fight with a 17-0 record and a cult following among the hardest of the hard-core boxing fans.
But Rigondeaux, who is among the greatest defensive fighters in the history of the game, seemed disinterested in the fight. He had no real plan. He was the smaller man, but he stood flat-footed in the center of the ring and did little to cause Lomachenko problems.
Afterward, he didn’t even have the class to credit Lomachenko for his performance.
“I lost, but it was because of my hand,” Rigondeaux said.
That is pure bunk. He simply was out-classed and overwhelmed, and didn’t want to take any more punishment and walked away.
Lomachenko was regarded by many entering the fight as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and did nothing to hurt his reputation in the bout. But the harsh truth is that he didn’t have much in front of him.
Rigondeaux was strangely passive and disinterested and so it’s hard to praise Lomachenko too much given what he faced.
Lomachenko didn’t seem thrilled by the outcome given Rigondeaux has been a super bantamweight most of his career.
“He’s a tough fighter,” Lomachenko said. “He’s a king in boxing, but he’s a king in his weight category. This is not his size; it’s not his weight. It’s not a big win for me because it’s not his weight category.”
Those who regarded Lomachenko as No. 1 in the world saw nothing Saturday that would cause them to demote him. But those who weren’t sure, who had him No. 2, 3 or 4, may not have seen enough to raise him due to Rigondeaux’s indifference.
Lomachenko’s future opponents aren’t so clear — A fight with Mikey Garcia would be outstanding, but because of the rancor between Garcia and Top Rank, who had a long, nasty lawsuit, it’s unlikely — but there is one thing certain.
Whatever Top Rank chairman Bob Arum and president Todd duBoef do, don’t for a second consider a rematch.
Rigondeaux proved beyond a shadow of a doubt he doesn’t deserve it.