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'Don't mention all those 'men' like Frampton': Rigo plotting career-defining upset of Lomachenko

Guillermo Rigondeaux has climbed two weights to face his fellow two-time Olympic champion in a historic bout.

Image: Simon Galloway

GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX SAYS he was forced to take the risk of leaping two weights to face pound-for-pound rival Vasyl Lomachenko due to the lack of competition both in his own and neighbouring divisions.

The 37-year-old Cuban fights his fellow double Olympian from Ukraine, 29, at Madison Square Garden’s Theater on Saturday night, in what will be the first ever professional fight between a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists.

‘El Chacal’ will make the leap from 122 pounds to 130 in challenging Lomachenko for his WBO World super-featherweight title, and speaking ahead of what will likely prove to be a career-defining fight, bemoaned the lack of willingness on behalf of his rivals at super-bantam and feather to face him in or around his own natural fight weight.

“Do not mention all those ‘men’ like Leo Santa Cruz, or Carl Frampton, who do not want to fight with men… It’s better [to] ask them who wants to fight me. I’ll fight with anyone,” Rigondeaux told ESPN Deportes.

Belfast’s Frampton has been a long-touted prospective opponent for Rigondeaux since winning his first world title at super-bantamweight in 2014, but has in the past openly admitted he has no intention of taking such a potentially high-risk fight for relative pittance.

In an interview with The42 which will be published this coming Saturday, however, Frampton addresses the ‘Rigo’ issue once more, expressing a keen interest in making the fight should the Cuban upset the odds in New York and in turn become a more lucrative option.

Lomachenko is the 1/5 favourite ahead of the feverishly anticipated contest, with Rigondeaux coming in around the 10/3 mark, but the challenger – arguably the greatest amateur boxer of all time – remains adamant that he can dismantle ‘Hi-Tec’ in the Big Apple.

“[Lomachenko] is a good fighter, a quality fighter who has talent, and he is a world champion,” he said. “It’s a good fight, which will remain in history, and even in the Guinness records, with two multiple Olympic champions. It’s something that will be seen for the first time in boxing.

“There are bigger things than that in my sports career, but it would be something important [to beat him] and better things will come after this fight.

I am 100%, because we are fast, well prepared and that is what we know best: speed, the ability to fight, and we will do very well. I’m fine and I know what I have to do in the ring.

The one that should worry is Lomachenko.

Vasyl Lomachenko v Roman Martinez - Boxing Vasyl Lomachenko Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The champion’s promoter, meanwhile, expects Lomachenko to get the job done inside the distance versus a fighter who has never been defeated in the paid ranks and was bested just 12 times in his 475 amateur bouts (Lomachenko’s own amateur record was 396-1).

“I look for Lomachenko to knock Rigondeaux out or stop him or make him quit [by the] ninth, 10th round, something like that,” said Bob Arum to Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett on the latter’s Walking The Floor podcast. “Rigondeaux’s a tremendous fighter, but Lomachenko’s the best fighter I’ve seen.”

“The difference between [Rigondeaux] and Lomachenko is Lomachenko has all the skills in the world and piles up points, but he’s always looking for how he can destroy his opponent.

“In other words, Lomachenko knows that he’s piled up enough points, he can coast in the fight and win. He doesn’t wanna do it because from the opening round, when he feels out his opponent. It’s always with the idea that he’s either gonna destroy the guy or make him quit.

“A different mentality.”

Featuring on the undercard of Saturday’s bout will be Ireland’s Michael Conlan, who takes on Luis Fernando Molina [7-3-1] in his fifth professional outing, as well as a potential future opponent of Conlan’s in Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson.

You can watch it live on BT Sport and BoxNation from 2am Sunday morning (Irish time).

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Frampton: ‘I went out there not expecting a lot, but it was worse than anything I could ever have imagined’

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