By Scoop Malinowski
According to former World Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, Saturday night’s clash of titans could be an ultimate zenith in boxing history. Vasyl Lomachenko vs Guillermo Rigondeaux is as great at is gets in boxing, or perhaps the all time greatest showdown of all fistic showdowns.
“I think these are the two best, naturally-gifted fighters ever to set foot in the ring,” said Kelly Pavlik, who ten years ago reigned as the world’s best middleweight. “I’d say (Floyd) Mayweather, who was a great, naturally-gifted guy, but Mayweather was also very savvy in there. He lured people in. These two guys, like overall skill to skill, I think are the two best and I think you’re gonna see a very tactical fight. I lean towards Lomachenko. He’s got the size, the natural size, ability and he’s more of an aggressive fighter. I think in the close rounds with them both being up in the air, that the judges may lean towards Lomachenko because of the aggression. So I see a very good fight where it turns into a tactical fight. And it could also be an eighth round stoppage. Lomachenko is known to really frustrate fighters. But at the same time, when you’re as talented as Rigondeaux is, we really don’t know.”
Pavlik’s suggestion that Rigondeaux and Lomachenko, who have won an astounding four Olympic boxing gold medals combined, could be even a pugilistic skill level above historic titans like Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Ray Robinson is a fascinating theory. And it is entirely possible this Cuban-Ukrainian collision of ultra-talents is another level beyond what we saw in Leonard vs Hearns, Leonard vs Hagler. I asked Pavlik to elaborate on this.
“If you ask any boxing fan, put aside Leonard, Hagler are living legends and all time greats in the sport and did so much for it. But if you can take that away for a second and not be biased, and watch these two guys perform in the ring, I think the only other one out there – I’m talking natural abilities, skill-wise – maybe was Pernell Whitaker. Pernell could make you miss but he’d be too far out of range to make you pay for it,” continued Pavlik, who retired with a record of 40-2 with 34 KO’s. “These guys, like Lomachenko, will make you miss in mid-air and be taking steps to counter and hitting you. It’s crazy sick. And I think a lot of people in the sport agree with me on it.”
Yes we do, Mr. Pavlik. And Saturday night at Madison Square Garden may indeed be the all time greatest pugilistic competition featuring two supreme, immortal and even freakish talents, beyond anything and everything the sport has ever produced – or ever will produce.
The Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux fight is so appealing to the public and hardcore observers of the sport that it sold out in 48 hours, despite the fact that neither combatant is American or is even close to being a household name.
Get ready for something very special tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden everybody. Boxing is about to explore into a new universe.