WBO junior lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko is one of the most skilled fighters in boxing today, drawing comparisons to Muhammad Ali from his promoter, Bob Arum. The 29-year-old is so good that he once made a former champion, Nicholas Walters, quit on his stool.
Facing the toughest test of his career against Guillermo Rigondeaux on Saturday in the Theater at Madison Square Garden, the man who may eventually become the pound-for-pound king of the sweet science expects another dominant performance.
“I’m not gonna be surprised if he’s gonna quit,” Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs), of Ukraine, told reporters Wednesday through an interpreter at Mendez Gym in Manhattan.
The 130-pound showdown is a match made in heaven for boxing purists, pitting a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists against each other for the first time. Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) moved up two weight divisions to earn a shot against Lomachenko. Despite this, the 37-year-old Cuban believes his endurance and power will be intact Saturday, regularly posting tweets against his detractors.
But Lomachenko was cool and collected ahead of the fight, not allowing the online discussion to get in the way.
“I didn’t come here to prove something on the Twitter or Instagram,” he said. “I came here for Saturday night to show who I am.”
Lomachenko is making his second appearance in the Big Apple, as well as his second ESPN-aired bout. With more prime-time exposure — the event begins at 9 p.m. — Lomachenko is in position to continue his ascent and solidify his standing as one of boxing’s top stars.
“I’m very happy to be part of the history, and this is kind of like a step,” he said. “I’m stepping into history, and I’m very happy about it.”