Vasiliy Lomachenko, Guillermo Rigondeaux will fight in 1st bout between Olympic gold medalists

Boxing


NEW YORK — The historic nature of the fight between junior lightweight world titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, two of boxing’s pound-for-pound best, is not lost on the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

When Lomachenko and Rigondeaux, a junior featherweight titleholder moving up two weight classes for the bout, square off in their much-anticipated fight on Saturday (ESPN/ESPN Deportes, 9 p.m. ET) at the sold-out Theater at Madison Square Garden, it will be the first time that two fighters who each won two Olympic gold medals will meet in a professional match.

Lomachenko and Rigondeaux have both agreed to donate the gloves they will wear in the fight to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York.

“The Hall of Fame’s mission is to honor and preserve boxing history and this fight has historic implications as it is the first time two-time Olympic gold medalists have fought as professionals,” Hall of Fame executive director Edward Brophy said on Wednesday at the final pre-fight news conference. “To have two of the most decorated Olympic boxers of all time battle with the junior lightweight championship on the line promises to be a memorable night for the sport.

“We are thrilled that both fighters and their camps agreed to donate the gloves they will use against each other. While the Hall’s collection of fight-worn artifacts continues to grow year after year, this is the first time that gloves will go right from the boxers’ fists to the hands of the Hall of Fame in the ring immediately after the bout ends.”

The fighters and Brophy posed for photos at the news conference and Lomachenko and Rigondeaux seemed excited to have their gloves being sent to the Hall of Fame.

“My goal in this sport from the beginning was to make boxing history,” Lomachenko said. “It is a very big honor to have a part of me — my boxing gloves — to be in the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota. It is very exciting too to be the first to have his gloves taken from the boxing ring to the Hall of Fame.”

Lomachenko, 29, has made plenty of history already. He won his first world title at featherweight in his third pro fight to tie to the record for fewest bouts needed to win a title. Then, in his seventh pro fight, he won a junior lightweight world title, the fewest fights needed by anyone to win a title in a second weight class.

Rigondeaux, 37, said he was humbled to have the Hall of Fame ask for his gloves and said he is happy to donate them.

“I’m truly humbled by the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s decision to enshrine my gloves from this historic fight against Vasiliy Lomachenko,” he said. “It’s an incredible honor. I have devoted my life to the sport of boxing, so it’s a blessing to know that my gloves will be commemorated forever alongside those of other boxing greats.”

Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs), from Ukraine, won Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012 on his way to an amateur record of 396-1 (with the loss avenged twice). Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs), a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, Florida, won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004 and finished his amateur career with a record of 463-12.

“The Lomachenko versus Rigondeaux title fight is a signature event in the sport of boxing. The two greatest Olympic fighters facing off against each other as professional world champions,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. “It’s fitting that their gloves be enshrined at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. On (Saturday), the gloves belong to the fighters. Beginning (Sunday), they will belong to history.”



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