Vasyl Lomachenko v Guillermo Rigondeaux: It's the day of The Jackal

Punching power . . . Guillermo Rigondeaux in action
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It's the fight that experts say will settle the debate on who is the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Ralph Ellis is forecasting an upset.

"The sheer scale of his talent, athleticism and punching power makes this more of a 50-50 fight in my view so backing the underdog at [4.9] in the Match Odds is an unmissable bet."

There can be few boxers who have followed a harder road than Cuban exile Guillermo Rigondeaux. His story is the stuff of spy novels or movies.

His nickname is "The Jackal", and Frederick Forsyth himself would have been proud of creating the plot of his rise to stardom.

He was twice an Olympic gold medal winner. First in Sydney, then Athens. But while the path to turning pro with fame and fortune might be a simple one for a Western fighter, for Fidel Castro's favourite it was far more complicated.

Unable to cash in on his success as an amateur, he ran from the team hotel in Rio and tried to make a new life, only to end up being sent back home in disgrace. There followed another, cloak and dagger escape to Miami where the 37-year-old is now based.

From there he's fought 17 times as a pro, winning them all, 11 times by a knockout - and yet never quite gaining the worldwide reputation his success deserved. It's a measure of the way his career has gone that when he defended his WBO super bantamweight title in Cardiff it was in the Ice Arena rather than the Principality Stadium.

That profile could be about to change in the early hours of Sunday our time, though, when he takes the huge gamble of stepping up two weight divisions to challenge Vasyl Lomachenko for his WBA Super Featherweight belt.

The contest in Madison Square Gardens theatre is one that has boxing purists licking their lips. It might have flown under the radar for public recognition over here while James DeGale is getting the attention, but this is the weekend's super fight.

With Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward now retired, that means the winner of Lomachenko v Rigondeaux can claim to be the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

Lomachenko, from the Ukraine, also won gold in both Beijing and London, making it the first time two double Olympic champions have ever met in a professional ring.

Orthodox thinking says that Rigondeaux will be too badly handicapped by the jump in weight to be able to triumph. As Amir Khan found when he tried to go up two divisions to face Canelo Alvarez, it's a huge ask.

But the sheer scale of his talent, athleticism and punching power makes this more of a 50-50 fight in my view so backing the underdog at [4.9] in the Match Odds is an unmissable bet.

Top judges like Freddie Roach rate his prospects. He calls him "the greatest talent I have ever seen".

And you only have to reference that fight in the Ice Arena to know his punching power can transcend the weight difference - he broke the jaw of Jazza Dickens with a huge left hand.

It promises to be a classic fight because it is also a clash of styles. Lomachenko has dazzling speed and aggression while Rigondeaux is a more defensive fighter, waiting to pick his moment with a flurry of classic counter attacks.

After a long career, this is his moment to finally take the spotlight his talent and perseverance has deserved. The spy story might just get a happy ending.

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