For the first time in the history of boxing, two, two time Olympic Gold Medal champions stepped into the ring to fight. Ukraine's Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) and the Cuban national hero, Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs) squared off for Lomachenko's WBO Super Featherweight Title in front of a capacity crowd at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The championship bout was televised by ESPN, which meant fans watching the bout at home to listen to Stephen A. Smith provide his "expert" boxing opinion on the bout and fighter's careers.
In the weeks leading up to the bout, hardcore fight fans knew before a punch was thrown that the fighters would put their strong defensive skills on display over the course of the contest. Many boxing analysts gave the younger Lomachenko the slight advantage over the aging Rigondeaux, who moved up two weight classes for this matchup.
When the opening bell rang, the sell out crowd was so loud that it was difficult to hear ESPN's mediocre commentators call the fight... Which was not a bad thing! (Sorry, not sorry, Tim Bradley) Lomachenko's size and weight advantage were evident from the outset. Lomachenko weighed in seven pounds heavier than his undefeated opponent. The first two rounds were marked with the men feeling one another out, and locking up in holds that referee Steve Willis did a poor job in breaking up.
In between the second and third rounds, Willis appeared to have a conversation with both fighters about the clinches, and punches thrown by both fighters after coming out of these clinches. In the third round, Lomachenko landed three hard right upper cuts that appeared to catch Rigondeaux's attention. In the fourth round, Lomachenko put his speed on display, as he outclassed and toyed with the veteran fighter.
The fifth round was full of clinches that the referee again failed to control. Lomachenko who noticed that the referee could not control the bout up to this point, proceeded to land a number of dirty and illegal punches during clinches, and after holds were broken up. Lomachenko's strategy began to frustrate Rigondeaux in the sixth round, who also started to show his age in this round. A point was deducted from Rigondeaux during this round by referee, Steve Willis.
Rigondeaux refused to come out of his corner for the seventh round. The exhausted and frustrated fighter refused to continue for what appeared to be an injured left hand. Some analysts believed that this was a cop out for the number seven ranked pound-for-pound fighter who was being dominated on the scorecards up to that point of the bout. Lomachenko, the victor by TKO, put on yet another show of force for a nationally televised audience. Lomachenko, whose dominance in the ring has forced four straight fighters to refuse to come out of their corners, told ESPN that he may change his name to "NoMasChenko." In the post-fight interview, Rigondeaux claimed that his injured left hand prevented him from continuing in the bout, a statement which drew loud boos from those in attendance.
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