By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Vasyl Lomachenko wouldn’t be surprised if Guillermo Rigondeaux decides to go out the same way Nicholas Walters did.
The confident southpaw said Wednesday that he thinks he can make the undefeated Rigondeaux quit when they square off in a highly anticipated 130-pound title fight Saturday night. Walters was unbeaten when he got in the ring with Lomachenko a year ago in Las Vegas, yet decided seven largely lopsided rounds were enough and declined to continue.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine will try to demoralize Rigondeaux in a similar manner.
“I’m not gonna be surprised if he’s gonna quit,” Lomachenko said before an open workout Wednesday at Mendez Boxing Gym.
Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs, 1 NC) has more overall skills than Jamaica’s Walters (26-1-1, 21 KOs) or Jason Sosa (20-3-4, 15 KOs), whose trainer, Raul Rivas, decided he had enough after nine non-competitive rounds April 8 in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
The Cuban southpaw is 37, though, and has completed just three combined rounds in the two years since he out-boxed the Philippines’ Drian Francisco in their 10-rounder on the Canelo Alvarez-Miguel Cotto undercard in November 2015. Rigondeaux also has moved up two weight classes, from 122 pounds to 130, to challenge Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) for his WBO super featherweight title in the main event of a six-bout card in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Even though he feels he can make Rigondeaux quit, Lomachenko respects the ability that has helped shape his fellow two-time Olympic gold medalist into one of the best boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
“He’s very smart, he’s fast, he has ability and he has a lot of skills,” Lomachenko said. “This is the reason this bout was made.”
The 29-year-old Lomachenko declined to answer when he was asked if he wants to “embarrass” or “humiliate” Rigondeaux for all the disrespectful statements he has made in interviews and social media posts.
“It’s very hard to talk about what’s gonna happen and how it’s gonna be,” Lomachenko said. “So let’s wait until December 9th.”
Lomachenko-Rigondeaux will headline ESPN’s four-fight broadcast Saturday night from The Theater (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.