Written by TCS Contributor, Akwasi Appiah.
Every now and then in boxing, the best fight the best. In the early hours of Sunday morning two men with a combined record of 893 wins to 14 losses, will go head to head in what is billed to be the most competitive boxing match of the year. It is the first time in boxing history where two men who are two-time Olympic Gold medallists will come head-to-head in the ring.
2017 has been an amazing year for boxing. We saw James Degale come off the deck to earn a draw with Badou Jack. Floyd Mayweather beat Connor Mcgregor in the highest grossing fight of all time. And last but not least, who could forget that night in Wembley stadium where Anthony Joshua knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round. Unfortunately, the Lomachenko and Rigondeaux bout doesn’t carry the same attention as the aforementioned fights. But for the boxing purists, this event comes as an early Christmas gift.
Rigondeaux was the Golden boy of the Cuban boxing school until he defected in 2005. We see few pro-Cuban boxers due to the ban imposed by Castro in 1961 prohibiting professional boxing. Rigondeaux won Gold medals at both the Sydney and Athens games in the bantamweight division. After winning Gold twice, he took a speedboat through shark-infested waters to Miami to realise his dream of becoming the best pound for pound boxer of all time. On arrival, he proved his ability to adapt to the professional ranks and has amassed a clean record of 17 fights, 11 knockouts with no losses.
Lomachenko’s journey was arguably easier. Born in Ukraine he started boxing aged 5. Trained by his father he displayed natural ability for the sport. His father, recognising the importance of footwork, pulled him out of boxing and sent him to the national ballet academy to hone his skills. His sublime footwork is now on display for all to see. With only 9 professional fights, he is already a two-weight world champion. It took Floyd Mayweather double the number of fights to win one title let alone two.
This is a spectacle which will intrigue all; the coming together of the two most–skilled fighters in the world. How will two men who hit and often don’t get hit, impose their wills on each other? The edge must be given to Lomachenko. Being the younger, fresher fighter, will help him in the later rounds as will the 8lb weight advantage. However, Rigondeaux brings an experience and confidence with him into the ring. He has come off the canvas to win. He’s gone to points. He’s fought abroad. But all of this won’t matter at 2 am Sunday morning. What will matter is who has the greater will and for that display, I cannot wait.