Friday, 08 December 2017 05:36

Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux betting lines: ... But intangibles favor underdog

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In, perhaps, one of the most epic match-ups in boxing history, Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) will face Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 9.

Two-time gold medal winners, they were two of the most decorated amateurs ever and are elite, unbeaten world champions today.

Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux: The favorite
Not surprisingly, Lomachenko is the clear - but not dominant - favorite. As of December 6, Bovada has the Ukrainian at -350 while the Cuban sits at +265. Hence, a successful $350 wager on Vasyl would yield $100 while a successful $100 bet on Rigo would generate $265.

At 30, Loma is seven years younger and Rigo is climbing two weight divisions (8 pounds) to face a naturally larger foe so the betting lines make sense. Moreover, like Canelo Alvarez against Gennady Golovkin in September, Vasyl Lomachenko will be the A-side and will likely be awarded the too-close-to call rounds.

Loma will also be the fighter defending a title that evening and boxing history has shown us that title status can impact verdicts, whether we choose to admit it or not.

On paper, there's no doubt Lomachenko deserves his status as the favorite.... But what about the intangibles? What about the things we don't see such as a fighter's hunger and will to win, motivation, desire, training regimen and focus?

Simply put: Perhaps no fighter in the last several years has had reason enough to want to win a fight as badly as Rigo should want to Saturday night.


Rigo's reputation for being a boring 'points' fighter has long been a hindrance to his career so he understands he must make the most of this opportunity. The old saying 'Win tonight and look good next time' won't apply to Rigondeaux as he's played that card a few too many times. 

Remember when he soundly defeated red hot Nonito Donaire? That victory enhanced Rigo's legacy as a fighter and champion but did little or nothing to propel his stock value among fans.

Rigondeaux needs to win - and look good in the process.

Compromised purses
Because he gained a reputation as a boring fighter, Rigo, aside from this upcoming fight, has never been a hot draw despite his top 5 pound-for-pound ranking the last 4 or 5 years. Purse-wise, he's consistently underperformed versus other elite champions.

A small fanbase is another reason for his diminished purses. And keep in mind, Rigondeaux hasn't been on TV much lately nor had he received much press prior to the Lomachenko fight being signed.

By fighting on ESPN Saturday night, Rigo will have the opportunity to strengthen his fanbase and bolster his stock which would give him much-needed leverage in subsequent bouts if he's successful Saturday night.

Top Rank revenge
Having been labeled an unmarketable commodity for his highly technical style, Rigo was dismissed by Top Rank, his then promoter, and HBO in 2014. When Top Rank didn't renew his contract, Rigo's stock value plummeted and several of his subsequent fights were not even broadcast live in the US.

Now, Rigondeaux has a golden opportunity to make his former promoter pay. Not only would a win propel his stock value and force Top Rank to eat its words, it would halt the momentum of their hottest fighter.

At age 37 and with a reputation for being boring, Rigo knows this fight might serve as the last opportunity he has to shine on boxing's biggest stage.

Potential loss of WBA title
In a bogus and seemingly unprecedented move, the WBA recently stated it would strip Rigo of his 122 pound title should he lose to Lomachenko, an opponent two weight divisions higher.

In response, he Tweeted: Very very disappointed of this decision made by @WBABoxing. I wonder if they would act the same way if my name was @Canelo, @FloydMayweather, @anthonyjoshua or even @GGGBoxing …. I bet NOT!

Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux (stories)
December 9, 2017; 9pm ET
Madison Square Garden
New York City

Broadcast: ESPN
Division: Super featherweight
Title: WBO (Lomachenko defending)

All of the above mentions have likely produced sheer anger in Guillermo.

Don't be surpised if the Cuban has a proverbial chip on his shoulder that might be serving as a key emotional motivator.

Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux betting lines
Vasyl is the favorite and he may be the best fighter in the world; But Rigondeaux has an edge in the intangibles.

Nothing has come easy for him in boxing.

When he enters the ring Saturday night, he'll be bringing with him all of the rage, heartbreak and disappointment that has been so prominent in what has otherwise been a highly successful career.

If anyone should have that 'eye of the tiger,' it's most certainly Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Leroy Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.