Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux scoring: Why Ukrainian will be awarded the close roundsWritten by Leroy Cleveland
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.
No, it won't be Hagler vs Hearns or Gatti vs Ward in terms of activity and excitement, but just seeing these technicians in the ring together plying their trade will be enough to satisfy the hardcore fight fan.
So, who will win?
While we won't offer an outcome prediction in this article, we will tell you who has the edge.
Like Canelo Alvarez against Gennady Golovkin in September, Vasyl Lomachenko will likely be awarded the too-close-to call rounds. In fact, prior to Canelo vs Golovkin, we predicted the onus was on Gennady to separate himself from Canelo.
Rigondeaux will be facing a similar challenge in December because, for all intents and purposes, Vasyl is the A-side.
Loma will also be the fighter defending a title that evening, and boxing history has shown title status can matter, whether we choose to admit it or not.
We’ll often hear commentators ask after a close bout, “Did he do enough to take the title away from the champion.”
… But we seldom hear, “Did he do enough to retain his title?”
A-side vs B-side
The uncomfortable truth is the A-side fighter and perceived superstar enters the bout with a small scoring advantage, and boxing history also supports this.
Louis vs Walcott I, Canelo vs Lara, Canelo vs Trout, Foreman vs Stewart, Holmes vs Williams, Garcia vs Herrera, Rios vs Abril, Toney vs Tiberi, De La Hoya vs Sturm, Ali vs Norton III, Duran vs Barkley, Canelo vs Golovkin, and Mayweather vs Castillo I.
I can go on and on.
Loma is the more popular, more respected fighter and doesn't have a reputation for putting fans to sleep a la his opponent. And unfortunately, the judges will be fully aware of that.
“The thing is, Lomachenko has had more help, especially with the media," Rigo's manager, Pedro Diaz, recently told BoxingScene.com. But we’re not worried about that. On December 9, the world is going to see once again who Rigondeaux is, because he’s done it before, and he’ll do it again.
“All the press that have been influenced in such a negative way, that have said that Rigo doesn’t sell tickets, that he’s boring and doesn’t put on a show, they’re going to be the same ones giving him the credit he deserves and putting in the position he deserves in boxing."
Judges are human and can be subconsciously influenced to give one fighter a tiny preference over another based on what they already know about the fighters they are critiquing. Moreover, they can also be influenced by fighting styles. For instance, some judges are more impressed by defense and ring generalship while other place the most emphasis on aggression and hard-punching.
The Donaire fight
Rigo was also the B-side side when he cruised to a unanimous decision win over Nonito Donaire 5 years ago. If Rigondeaux can dominate Vasyl the same way he schooled Donaire, Rigo should have no problem finding favor with the judges, regardless the level of action.
However, if it's a repeat of Golovkin vs Canelo, Golovkin vs Jacobs or Canelo vs Lara, Lomachenko will likely win, regardless of which fighter he is in the aforementioned scenarios.
“For me Nonito Donaire was more dangerous than Lomachenko, in terms of punching power, plus he was the Fighter of the Year in 2012 " Coach Diaz added.
"He also had a great team. I don’t want to comment on Lomachenko’s recent fights, he throws a lot of punches but he doesn’t punch hard, and Donaire punched hard. Lomachenko is a southpaw as is Rigondeaux and you’re going to see a surprise.”