By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Guillermo Rigondeaux thinks too much has been made about him moving up two weight classes to challenge Vasyl Lomachenko.
The unbeaten Cuban southpaw has never weighed in at more than 125½ pounds for any of his 18 professional bouts, but will battle Lomachenko at the super featherweight limit of 130 pounds Saturday night. The long-reigning WBA super bantamweight champion considers skill more important than weight, though, and the two-time Olympic gold medalist feels he has been underestimated entering their 12-round title fight in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“[Weight] has nothing to do with it,” Rigondeaux said through a translator before an open workout Wednesday at Mendez Boxing Gym. “When there’s quality, you don’t need size or anything else.”
Based on their face-to-face meetings, Rigondeaux doesn’t think Lomachenko is all that much bigger than him.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs), who began his professional career at featherweight (126 pounds) four years ago, is listed at 5-feet-6. Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs, 1 NC), who has been almost exclusively a super bantamweight (122) since he turned pro eight years ago, is listed at 5-feet-4.
There is a clause in their contracts that prohibits either fighter from weighing more than 138 pounds during a second-day weigh-in Saturday morning. Rigondeaux refused to answer Wednesday when asked how much he expects to weigh at the official weigh-in Friday afternoon, at the second-day weigh-in or when he enters the ring Saturday night.
“More weight than what they think and less than what they really imagine,” Rigondeaux said. “Less than 140 and more than 122. You’ll see at the weigh-in.”
Regardless, Rigondeaux is confident he’ll fare far better than other boxers who’ve moved up two weight classes for big fights in recent years.
“What happened with Brook and what happened with Amir Khan,” Rigondeaux said, “it’s gonna be different because I’m gonna win.”
Rigondeaux referenced England’s Kell Brook, who was stopped by Gennady Golovkin in the fifth round when Brook moved up from welterweight for a middleweight title fight in September 2016 in London. England’s Khan, another welterweight, also got knocked out by Canelo Alvarez in the sixth round when he moved up for their middleweight title fight in May 2016 in Las Vegas.
ESPN will televise the bout between Lomachenko, 29, and Rigondeaux, 37, as the main event of a four-fight telecast set to start Saturday night at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.