Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux: Fight prediction, preview odds, line, tale of the tape, pick

Saturday’s junior lightweight title bout between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux is indeed historically unique since the first professional boxing game to feature fighters that have each won several Olympic gold medals, which putting it into proper context hasn’t been easy.

In a lot of ways, it’s a Super Bowl of the lower weight classes, featuring a rising star in Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs), who captured world titles in two weight divisions in just his seventh pro fight, along with the eldest Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs), one of the best defensive geniuses ever.

You can just as easily call it a showdown for current pound-for-pound supremacy. Heck, Roy Jones Jr. went as far as saying it’s the very best fight on newspaper that pro boxing has ever seen. But for its ravenous allure to hardcore fans within the very niche world of the sports science, it was difficult to envision it would ever connect to a greater audience beyond that.

Although Lomachenko is getting near, neither fighter talks English full-time in interviews and have styles that are heavier on technical wizardry (Rigondeaux has been frequently deemed dull ) compared to bone-crushing knockouts. But something happened along the way.

First, legendary promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank announced a four-year deal with ESPN earlier this year, which included Lomachenko’s August victory over Miguel Marriaga, also procured prime property for the fight (9 p.m. ET) immediately following the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Secondly, the battle sold out the 5,500-seat Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York two weeks ahead of time. The end result was a steady flow of crossover buzz for a fight pairing a fighter (Ukraine’s Lomachenko) who may already be the very best in the game after only 10 expert spells against maybe the only man equipped to disarm him (Cuba’s Rigondeaux).

Even the sometimes gruff Arum, who turns 86 on Friday and enters the 30th occasion he has encouraged at”The World’s Most Famous Arena” during 50-plus years at boxing, had to acknowledge he was pleasantly surprised by how the struggle was received.

“I was gratified by the interest and the way this has captured, but understand that I am involved with boxing, so I really like boxing, and I felt always that this struggle is worthy of the attention that it, in fact, has received,” Arum told CBS Sports on this week’s”In This Corner” podcast. “Was I confident of the coming in? No. It’s something that is well merited. It is not a fluke that it’s getting the attention that it’s getting due to those participants.

“It’s historic. These are two of the greatest amateur fighters in boxing history and also the fact that they are going at each other is something really fantastic. I am honored to market this battle.”

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