By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – When Guillermo Rigondeaux got on the scale Friday afternoon, he didn’t look like a small man making an overly ambitious move.
Though two inches shorter than Vasyl Lomachenko, Rigondeaux appeared muscular and more than ready to challenge the Ukrainian southpaw for his 130-pound championship Saturday night. The 5-feet-4 Rigondeaux weighed in at a career-high 128.4 pounds for his shot at Lomachenko in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Before Friday, the 37-year-old Rigondeaux had never weighed in at more than 125½ pounds for a professional fight. That bout took place nearly eight years ago and Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs, 1 NC) has almost exclusively fought at the super bantamweight limit of 122 pounds since he turned pro in May 2009.
The 29-year-old Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) officially weighed 129 pounds Friday for his fourth defense of the WBO super featherweight title he won by knocking out Puerto Rico’s Rocky Martinez in the fifth round of their June 2016 fight at The Theater.
ESPN will televise Lomachenko-Rigondeaux as the main event of a four-fight telecast scheduled to start Saturday night at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST. The highly anticipated clash between these skilled, powerful southpaws will mark the first fight in boxing history in which a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists will square off.
Lomachenko won a featherweight gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and a lightweight gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Rigondeaux won bantamweight gold medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Internet and Las Vegas sports books list Lomachenko as a 3-1 favorite. Cuba’s Rigondeaux is a decided underdog because he is eight years older, has moved up two weight classes and has boxed just three combined rounds in the past two years.
The WBA also has announced that if Lomachenko wins, Rigondeaux somehow will lose his WBA super bantamweight championship. That 122-pound title obviously isn’t at stake in this 130-pound bout, but Rigondeaux will only keep that championship if he wins.
Even then, he’ll be given just five days to decide if he’ll move back down to 122 pounds to defend it.
Here are the weights for the first three fights ESPN will televise Saturday night:
Shakur Stevenson (3-0, 1 KO), Newark, New Jersey, 125.2 pounds, vs. Oscar Mendoza (4-2, 2 KOs), Santa Maria, California, 125.2 pounds, 6 rounds, featherweights.
Michael Conlan (4-0, 4 KOs), Belfast, Northern Ireland, 126.2 pounds, vs. Luis Fernando Molina (7-3-1, 2 KOs), Buenos Aires, Argentina, 125.4 pounds, 6 rounds, featherweights.
Christopher Diaz (21-0, 13 KOs), Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, 129.4 pounds, vs. Bryant Cruz (18-2, 9 KOs), Port Chester, New York, 132.6 pounds, 10 rounds, for the NABO super featherweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.