UPDATE: Team Loma said the ship has sailed, that Rigo is past tense, out of the running to fight the Ukrainian master of angles. And on Sunday, Rigo seemed like he was resigned that the two sweet scientists were too far apart in weight to find a middle ground spot to clash. But Monday brought a re-think; the Cuban is lobbying on social media to get back into the Loma mix. He's basically stating that as a paler skinned fighter, Loma receives better press than darker skinned fighters with similar skill sets. Check out the Rigo call to rumble:
He made a very good fighter look very ordinary and pushed that boxer off the edge mentally, made him surrender, and risk shaming and a stain on his rep rather than getting off the stool to face inevitable guillotineing.
Vasyl Lomachenko implanted himself on more tops of pound for pound lists, and snagged himself a bevy of new rooters, who saw hin use a combination melding of footwork and hands-throwing which has old timers reaching back to the 1950s to find analogous talent.
The way Loma took out Nicholas Walters was, arguably, maybe too efficient. Like a Floyd Mayweather and other superlative talents who fights in a smart-cautious fashion, Loma against Walters made it look too easy, and thus diminished a level of drama which people seeking pugilistic entertainment crave. It can look like sparring when Floyd or Loma is dialed in, looking pretty unhittable, unhurtable, landing just about at will. The talent gap looks so wide and thus, in absence of the drama provided by the collision of two talents with comparable assets, one is left to marvel at one man's skill set, as he paints a solo masterpiece, making his foe a non sentient canvas, just an instrument to reflect the brilliance.
Walters for sure left the Las Vegas ring tarred with a broad brush. He quit, refusing to come out for round eight in a bout he was not winning but was not getting destroyed in. For sure, momentum was building against the Jamaican. Most all who watched had the sense that Loma in round seven had stepped it up, decided to press foot more to the floor, accelerate his build to vanquishment. Walters in the ring after the decision to capitulate, his face not excessively marked or swollen, told Max Kellerman he'd been hurt in round seven, knew there'd be more of that in the eighth, and knew because he'd been off almost a year that his rusty tool belt couldn't deal with Loma's gleaming collection of attributes.
“It wasn't about quitting, right,” said Walters to Max. “If you look at the last round he caught me with some pretty good shots, I was holding on just to survive the round. It would be stupid to come out after the last round.”
Time will have to pass and memories fade before fight fans will sign off on the Jamaican who lives in Panama getting another big fight, hefty payday opportunity. Loma, not so. He's the favorite in any clash he'd care to take at 126, or 130.
He was asked who he'd like to test himself against next and paused, when asked by Kellerman, who he'd like next. “Jessie Vargas,” a Golden Boy boxer who holds a WBC 130 title, he said. And maybe Manny Pacquiao, the HBO crew mentioned, as someone promoter Bob Arum had floated, and trainer Freddie Roach wasn't opposed to.
In the Twittersphere, the name Guillermo Rigondeaux was floated. He and Loma had been paired by amateur matchmakers for a spell, and negotiating had occurred last year which brought that closer to fruition. I poked Rigo, the Cuban cutie, and asked him what he thought of Lomachenko-Walters and if that near fruition could reach end stage.
“Loma is a very good fighter no question,” Rigo told me. “It is not for nothing we both have two gold medals.
“I am happy that Top Rank took such an interest on him. Too bad we are so far apart now on weight class. I think it would have been a great match between us at top 126. As far as Walters goes he quit, plain and simple.”
Now, Loma made 126 a year ago. One wonders, could he, would he revisit that territory if the right opportunity arose? I posed that to Egis Klimas, odds on favorite for 2016 manager of the year when BWAA voting occurs next month.
What's likely to be next for Loma?
“Possible rematch with Salido,” said the dealmaker, who also works die and with Sergey Kovalev. “As well, looking to move to 135 pounds, and to fight for the title to become first ever three times world champion with the ten or less professional bouts…but definitely not going to 126 pounds to chase Rigo. We offered him a few times to fight when he had a chance. Right now he is not in our interest any more. He has no name or recognition.
He did not move to 126 while Loma was in that weight class. Now, when Loma moved to 130, he wants to come to 126. Forget about him.”
Readers, weigh in. Who do you want to see Loma tangle with next? And Rigo? And, is Loma atop your pound for pound totem pole?