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Published: 13:16 | 7/12/17

Lomachenko is best fighter since Ali - Arum


Bob Arum has claimed Vasyl Lomachenko is the “greatest fighter sine Muhammed Ali” ahead of his fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux in Madison Square Garden.

The bout between two of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world could be a classic when it takes place on Sunday morning, live on Box Nation on the eir Sport pack from 02.00.

Both fighters are double Olympic champions and each hold a WBO world title belt, at super-featherweight for Lomachenko and at super-bantamweight for his Cuban opponent.

With Rigondeaux moving up two weights, he is the underdog as he looks to maintain his perfect record and promoter Arum, who has worked with all-time greats such as Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez, believes his opponent Lomachenko will prove an all-time great.

"I've never seen a fighter as technically perfect as him,” Arum told the BBC Radio 5 Live boxing podcast. “I am telling you without any reservation that Lomachenko is the greatest fighter I have seen since Muhammad Ali.

"For me to take a modicum of credit would not be correct. I'm not going to have any real part of it except to get him the fights necessary so that people acclaim him when he retires as the greatest fighter of all time and mention him in the same breath as Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson and those types.

"When Vasyl was a very young guy, his father would not allow him in the ring until he took ballet lessons. Then he made him do gymnastics. Vasyl has skills that other boxers do not have. When you see Vasyl Lomachenko you see a man with unbelievable qualifications.

"For example, he brings a sport psychologist to every training camp and after every training session, he goes with the psychologist and they talk about God knows what. Then the psychologist makes him do mind games. Whatever he does, I've never seen it before but it works.

"He's such an unusual person. He comes over to my house every once in a while, always bearing gifts. He brought me a backgammon set where the centre is the picture of him and myself. He's thoughtful. As a promoter the gifts are normally only ever going one way.”

Arum did concede that Rigondeaux is also a superb fighter.

"The reason he hasn't been marketable is because he has that Cuban style which is you win the early rounds and then you coast," he continued. "The difference between Rigondeaux's philosophy and Lomachenko is Lomachenko is always in there looking for openings with the end result being to destroy his opponent - to look for weaknesses, knockout his opponent or make him quit."

Michael Conlan also features on an impressive undercard when he takes his unbeaten record into the ring as he faces Argentine Luis Fernando Molina.

Conlan's fight against Luis Fernando Molina takes place on the undercard of the Rigondeaux-Lomachenko event, live on the eir Sport pack on Box Nation on Sunday morning from 02.00

Image:Getty/Sean Haffey eir Sport channels are available across the eir Vision, Sky and Vodafone TV platforms as well as on the eir Sport app. All 7 channels in the eir Sport pack are available for free if you are a residential eir broadband customer

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