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Olympic champs in historic fight

NEW YORK (AP) – Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, both champions and two of boxing’s best, were even more than that as amateurs.

They were the gold standard.

Cuba's Guillermo Rigondeaux, left, throws a left to Russia's Gennady Kovalev  (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)

Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux, left, throws a left to Russia’s Gennady Kovalev (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)

So a fight between them seemed natural, the first professional bout pitting fighters who each won two Olympic gold medals.
“It’s obviously a historic fight,” promoter Bob Arum said. “Two great, great fighters with two unbelievable pedigrees facing each other.’’

They fight Saturday (today Manila Time) at the Theater in Madison Square Garden for Lomachenko’s 130-pound title, a popular pairing for fight fans who marveled at their mastery of the craft back when the prizes were medals around their necks, not belts around their waists.

“This fight is very important for me because a lot of people who are fans, a lot of media want this fight,” Lomachenko said. “It’s a very special fight for them. It’s special for me. It will be interesting.”

Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) won Olympic gold in 2008 and again four years later in London fighting at a different weight, the highlights of an amateur career in which the Ukrainian compiled a 396-1 record. He won a 126-pound belt in just his third pro fight in 2014, has made three defenses of the 130-pound title he won in 2016, and is likely headed for a move up to lightweight next year.