Hellraiser Boxing News | A GAME OF THRONES: The Battle For The Pound For Pound Crown
The Weekender! A Game of Thrones: Battle for the Pound for Pound Crown. Lee Robertson takes a look at the huge fight on the horizon between mega-talents Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko. Don't miss this!
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by Lee Robertson
Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux
History, if allowed, teaches us many things; Kings find strategies that allow them to attain power, they are in turn deposed by younger craftier warriors and the strategies of those old kings are consigned to the pages of history. Rarely do warriors learn those old strategies, even rarer is the warrior that masters those old forgotten strategies and uses them to elevate their own art of war. Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux is a battle between two such warriors for the pound for pound boxing crown.
On December 9th two men that represent both the pinnacle of the boxing art and its future, meet to do battle - These men have 700 amateur and professional fights and 4 Olympic gold medals between them, their respective professional world titles not withstanding. Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux is a bout every young amateur boxer should not just watch, but study, dissect, learn from and hopefully use, to elevate their own approach to the technical aspects of the art of boxing.
Both men have attained a level of skill that has transcended the previously accepted norms for boxing and what boxers can do inside a ring. To the lay person and non boxing purists the names of these two supreme boxing artists will be relatively unknown, certainly in comparison to Mayweather, McGregor or even Canelo and Golovkin. There are several reasons for this; their diminutive stature, Super-feather weight bouts rarely make major sporting headlines; neither fighter is a trash talking fight seller, both men are also not widely known in America, and neither have huge KO power.
But what both men do possess in abundance is skill; skills they have both learnt over a life time (including childhoods) spent studying boxing kings of old, as well as the skills and strategies they have invented and added to their respective boxing arsenals.
As an amateur, Rigondeaux won consecutive gold medals in the bantamweight division at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics. He is also a seven-time Cuban national champion at bantamweight from 2000 until 2006 finishing his amateur career with a huge record of 475 fights with 12 losses; the last of these losses occurring in 2003. After Rigondeaux's defection to the U.S in 2009, he turned professional and remains undefeated.
Widely considered amongst boxing industry insiders to be one of the greatest amateur boxers of all time, Rigondeaux has been lauded by boxing trainer Freddie Roach as being, "Probably the greatest talent I've ever seen." Guillermo is known for his hand speed, counterpunching and elusiveness, and has proved an exceptionally difficult fighter to hit.
He has held multiple world championships at super bantamweight, including the WBA World and lineal titles since 2013, and previously the WBO and Ring magazine titles between 2013 and 2016, until May 2017, Rigondeaux was ranked as the world's best super bantamweight by The Ring, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
The art of Guillermo Rigondeaux
Guillermo Rigondeaux has no defence; at least not in a conventional sense, he does not block, parry or guard against punches with his arms and gloves, he does not dance; Yet he is one of the most difficult boxers in the world to hit….how? He manipulates his opponent's rhythm. It sounds so simple and it looks almost the same, it's not until you examine the calibre of his opponents and observe the ease with which he has won that you realise Guillermo Rigondeaux is boxing at a different level.
"Guillermo Rigondeaux draws his prey into a sensation akin to drowning, where the more they flail, the faster they sink"
Rigondeaux doesn't throw a huge arsenal of shots, he throws the standard jab, standard cross, a 1-2 and hook, it's the timing of these shots that holds the secret to his success. To the uninitiated Guillermo Rigondeaux fights ‘look’ boring; but to the educated eye watching him is like watching the history of boxing personified, it's an old fashioned style of boxing that was used in bygone eras, he steps slowly and throws lightening fast, he decreases the distance between himself and his opponents instantly and then increases it again at hi-speed. His cold dead eyes are not an affect for the cameras or his opponent, he is observing everything.
By uniting with his opponent's rhythm rather than disrupting it Guillermo Rigondeaux draws his prey into a sensation akin to drowning, where the more they flail, the faster they sink. Boxing from the southpaw stance and using his lead left to trap the lead hand of his opponents, allowing his own power cross free range. He does this in the blink of an eye, whilst bouncing to his opponents cadence.
Rare is the soul that has competed over 300 times in a ring and that rare level of experience is evident in Rigondeaux’s art; he has no fear, no anger, no emotion – he is icy cold and completely clinical in every aspect of his approach and execution for every bout. Ironically the only other fighter with a depth of experience that can compare, is in the same weight class, is younger and also gained a great success as an amateur.
With an amateur record of 396 wins and only one loss, Vasyl Lomachenko is the only man in boxing qualified to challenge Guillermo Rigondeaux for the pound for pound crown.
Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko
Known for his excellent hand speed, timing, accuracy, creativity, athleticism and foot movement, Lomachenko is currently one of the most highly-rated boxers in the sport, as well as arguably the greatest amateur of all time. Competing in the featherweight and lightweight divisions as an amateur, he won a silver medal at the 2007 World Championships, consecutive gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and consecutive gold at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships.
As of September 2017, Lomachenko is ranked as the world's second best active boxer, pound for pound, by ESPN; third by The Ring magazine and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board; He is also ranked by all four as the world's best active super featherweight. The Ring named Lomachenko as their Prospect of the Year in 2013. CBS Sports and HBO Sports named him Boxer of the Year in 2016.
He has held the WBO super featherweight title since 2016, and previously the WBO featherweight title from 2014 to 2016; he won the latter title in his third professional fight.
Inside the Matrix
They call Lomachenko Hi-Tech for a reason, boxing from the southpaw stance Vasyl is actually a natural Orthodox, this approach gives Vasyl’s footwork a huge advantage as he is also Left foot dominant. This combination means a smaller turning circle.
"It looks as if Lomanchenko is manipulating time, when in reality he is manipulating his opponent's movements"
Lomachenko’s training régime includes sets of complicated mathematical problems that he solves at high speed with his hands. This improves his brains processing ability, his hand to eye co-ordination and increases the speed of his problem solving skills whilst under pressure, as well as strengthening the neurological paths between his thoughts and actions. Vasyl transfers these higher motor neurone skills to the ring with a profound belief in their ability to make him a better fighter and a natural gift of athleticism; the result is a boxer that not only moves, acts and reacts faster than his opponents, but also thinks faster than his opponents.
With faints, mis-steps and a hi-tempo rhythm, Lomachenko controls his opponent's actions and reactions. He knows where they will be before they do, he has processed the information of the exchange, has already problem solved it and has already reacted. This gives his performances the Matrix effect - it looks as if Lomanchenko is manipulating time, when in reality he is manipulating his opponent's movements.
All of this is added to a profound understanding of the art, body mechanics and strategies of boxing. Lomanchenko, so far, has simply known much more about boxing than his opponents; this led not only to a professional world title in only his third bout; but also to him humiliating every opponent he has faced, with the ease of his victories. But this bout may be different, Guillermo Rigondeaux is every bit as qualified as Lomanchenko and as experienced.
And the Winner Is?
This will be a chess match and probably lack fireworks, it going the distance is a virtual certainty. But Rigondeaux’s edge in power being will be outpointed by Lomanchenko’s speed and dexterity over 12 beautiful rounds of boxing.
Posted: 7th Oct 2017
NEXT UP: Night of Thunder
4th May 2019 00:00, York Hall, 5 Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ
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