By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Bob Arum might’ve been surprised had he not seen this scenario unfold during previous Vasyl Lomachenko fights.
Lomachenko’s promoter knew, as did Lomachenko, there was a realistic chance the Ukrainian southpaw could make Guillermo Rigondeaux quit before they completed 12 rounds Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Lomachenko broke unbeaten Nicholas Walters’ will a year ago in Las Vegas and Jason Sosa considered nine one-sided rounds more than enough against Lomachenko four months later.
Rigondeaux revealed after suffering the first defeat of his career that he suffered an injury to his left hand in the second round. That injury, Rigondeaux contended, was why he couldn’t continue past the sixth round in their fight for Lomachenko’s WBO super featherweight title.
Arum questioned the validity of Rigondeaux’s injury by pointing out he had barely hit Lomachenko and joking that he must’ve hurt his hand “in the dressing room” before their fight began. The Hall-of-Fame promoter considers it more likely that Lomachenko broke Rigondeaux’s spirit, just as he had done against Walters (26-1-1, 21 KOs) and Sosa (20-3-4, 15 KOs).
“You see, I would’ve been [surprised],” Arum said. “But I’m not really [surprised] because this isn’t the first guy that he made quit. Nicholas Walters, a hell of a fighter, courageous guy. Made him quit. Right? Sosa, made him quit. You know, maybe Sosa’s not in that category. But he made him quit because they can’t do anything with him, they’re getting hit and they’re gonna get knocked out.”
Arum almost seemed sympathetic, despite that it’s typically taboo for boxers to decline to continue between rounds.
“They’re getting paid money, they can’t do anything, they’re dizzy, they’re gonna get knocked out,” Arum said. “So it’s pretty smart for them to quit.”
That said, Arum expected more competition from Cuba’s Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs, 1 NC), even though the former WBA super bantamweight champion moved up two weight classes to challenge Ukraine’s Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs). CompuBox credited Rigondeaux with landing just 15 of 178 total punches in six rounds (8.4 percent).
“Rigondeaux is not a ham-and-egger,” Arum said. “Rigondeaux was one of the great fighters – amateur, professional. Yeah, he stunk out [the joint against] an opponent. But nobody came close to beating him. I mean, he fought a guy like [Nonito] Donaire and destroyed Donaire. Donaire wasn’t a ham-and-egger. Donaire was a hell of a fighter. But with Rigondeaux, he was nothing.
“So now, Rigondeaux goes in with Lomachenko and he is totally bewildered. He can’t hit him with anything. He can’t stop Lomachenko from hitting him. He doesn’t know how to do it. He goes down, like with his head to the ground, and suddenly Lomachenko’s on the other side. Something really, really spectacular.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.