By Keith Idec
Like so many boxing fans, Teddy Atlas is looking forward to watching Guillermo Rigondeaux move up two weight classes to challenge Vasyl Lomachenko.
The ESPN analyst, who’ll call the fight from ringside December 9 in New York, just wishes it would’ve taken place five years ago, when Rigondeaux still was in his physical prime. Atlas considers age, activity and size to be disadvantages Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs, 1 NC) won’t be able to overcome when he challenges Ukraine’s Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) for his WBO super featherweight title next month in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The unbeaten Rigondeaux is 37, eight years old than Lomachenko. The Cuban southpaw also has boxed just parts of three combined rounds in two fights over the past two years, whereas Lomachenko has boxed parts of 28 rounds during four fights in that same period.
“One of the things that bodes well for Lomachenko is he has been more active,” Atlas told BoxingScene.com. “I think that’s a big, big deal here. Rigondeaux has not been active at all and I think that has to weigh into your thinking, at least it does for me, when you’re handicapping such an interesting match of top talents. The other thing is the age. I think if this fight would’ve happened five years earlier, maybe it would’ve boded better for Rigondeaux. The age and the inactivity and then the size, moving up in weight, I think that’s a little bit of an advantage for Lomachenko.
“A lot of the time size would not be an advantage when one fighter is so much smarter, so much more qualified and developed in the areas where Rigondeaux is qualified and developed. But in this case, he’s meeting another guy who is just as qualified and developed in those areas. And he’s bigger, so I think it’ll probably be a unanimous-decision win for Lomachenko. Throughout the night, you’ll wonder whether he gets a little careless, a little cocky, a little lax, where Rigondeaux can pull the lever on him, so to speak, to set that trap and catch him with something. But I think, again, he’s been a winner his whole life. And you’re not a winner your whole life by making mistakesor by getting careless or getting cocky at the wrong times. So, like I said, I think it winds up being a very interesting match.”
Atlas doesn’t expect Lomachenko to dominate Rigondeaux, but he can’t envision him losing this battle between Olympic gold medalists.
“I think it’s a chess match,” Atlas said. “We use that terminology in boxing sometimes when it shouldn’t be used. I think it’s probably fair to use it here. Maybe the difference is Lomachenko will be playing speed chess, like they do in the parks, where you have a timer, and Rigondeaux plays that old-fashioned chess, where, you know, you don’t have a clock. And I think at the end of the day, the guy playing speed chess will have the edge.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.