The road has not been an easy one for Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux. After winning gold medals in the Olympic games of 2000 and 2004, he defected in ’07 at the Pan-American Games in Brazil. Along with him was the WBA super middleweight champion Erislandy Lara. They were arrested some days later and stated that they wanted to return to Cuba but when then dictator-in-control Fidel Castro announced they would not be allowed to compete again as part of the Cuban national team, Rigondeaux made his way to Mexico City and signed a promotional company with Germany’s Arena Box-Promotion.
A professional since May of 2009, Rigondeaux has stepped into a ring a total of fourteen times as a professional and has won them all. On the way he has captured the WBA an WBO super bantamweight titles and dominated one of the then considered best fighters of the world, Nonito Donaire, back in April of 2013.
So why isn’t Rigondeaux one of the biggest names in boxing?
First off, his style. A perfect example of the “Cuban school”, Rigondeaux is a defensive fighter in the truest sense of the word. An amateur fighter with nearly 475 fights with only twelve losses, Rigondeaux dominates the hit and not get hit style as good as anybody that have ever laced up a pair of gloves.
Rigondeaux still has been a part of exciting fights. Nine of his fights have ended before the limit. He knocked out the usually durable Adolfo Landeros in the first round in his fifth fight and four fights later he captured his first world title by stopping the previously undefeated Rico Ramos in the sixth. Although the fight against Donaire was a lopsided defense that many complained that it was completely devoid of any sustainable action, Rigondeaux proved that he was a step beyond a world-class fighter like the “Filipino Flash”. Many considered the twelve round bout in which Rigondeaux took the WBO strap home a classic boxing lesson for many to study for years to come.
From the beginning of his pro career, Rigondeaux has fought in the United States under the Top Rank banner in a deal with his original promoter. Soon Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank, realized that not only HBO but the majority of the boxing audience weren’t all that interested in what Rigondeaux has to offer. Arum went as far as to say that HBO executives mentioned to him that they feel the urge to vomit at the thought of broadcasting another Rigondeaux fight after he made a fool of former champion Joseph Agbeko last December in his last fight on American soil.
Rigondeaux had one more fight in his contract with Top Rank and he fulfilled it in the quickest manner this past Saturday morning (in the western hemisphere) with a first round knockout of Sod Kokietgym at the Cotai Arena of the Macau Venetian Resort. Since the Home Box Office didn’t want it even for their HBO2 channel, it was broadcast on the UniMas network. After Kokietgym recuperated of an accidental headbutt, Rigondeaux dispatched him with a right hook followed by straight face flush to the face. Kokietgym didn’t beat the count at the 1:44 mark of the first round.
That was a pretty exciting finish but will Bob Arum thing so?