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Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Jazza Dickens on July 16

Guillermo Rigondeaux

By Jeff Aranow: WBA World super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KOs) will be taking a soft first defense of his WBA title against #13 WBA James “Jazza” Dickens (22-1, 7 KOs) on July 16 at the Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff, Wales. Rigondeaux, 35, was given the WBA 122lb title recently when the previous champion Carl Frampton opted not to face Rigondeaux when the fight was ordered.

Frampton instead moved up to featherweight, where he’ll be facing WBA Super World featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz on July 30 next month at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Rigondeaux was supposed to have fought Jazza earlier this year but the Cuban fighter had visa issues that got in the way of the fight taking place.

Now that Rigondeaux has his visa problems behind him, he can face Jazza without any issues. It’s not a great fight on paper, and you have to wonder how much Rigondeaux is getting paid to take this fight.

It’s a terrible mismatch, as Jazza is not a high quality contender. He’s more of an untested fringe contender, who was stopped by his best opponent in his career in Kid Galahad three years ago in the 10th round in 2013. Jazza has won his last six fights in beating weak opposition. He did beat domestic level fighter Martin Ward by a 12 round split decision last November. In Jazza’s last fight, he beat Reynaldo Cajina (14-33-5, 10 KOs) by a sixth round stoppage last March.

Rigondeaux is seen as by far the best fighter in the 122lbs division. He’s already beaten Nonito Donaire, the guy that is considered to be the second best fighter in this weight class. Rigondeaux attempted to get fights against Frampton and Scott Quigg, two popular UK fighters, but neither of them have ever taken him up on his offers. It’s possible that Rigondeaux will eventually face one of them, but it might not occur until he ages more and starts showing signs of being over-the-hill.

Rigondeaux hasn’t fought since last November, when he defeated the hard hitting featherweight Drian Francico by a 10 round unanimous decision on the Miguel Cotto vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight card on HBO PPV at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Rigondeaux-Francisco fight made it on the televised portion of the card, and it turned out to be a very dull fight in the minds of a lot of boxing fans. It wasn’t news to some fans that Rigondeaux chose to box rather than slug, because he’d been doing that his entire career. But this was a televised PPV fight on HBO, and many people expected more from Rigondeaux than what he showed in that fight.

The disappointing thing about the Rigondeaux vs. Jazza fight is that this is unquestionably a step down for Rigondeaux from his last fight against Drian Francisco. You normally don’t like to see champions taking a step down in competition, and you hate to see them taking a tremendous step down like Rigondeaux is doing by taking the fight against Jazza. That’s why you have to wonder whether Rigondeaux was offered a big purse if he’d agree to come to the UK and fight against Jazza. If not for that, there would be no point in Rigondeaux taking this fight because there is nothing compelling about it.

Rigondeaux will be able to keep the 25-year-old Jazza around for as long as he wishes. Jazza is 10 years younger than Rigondeaux, but his youth does not translate to having more energy or talent. Jazza is just a young fighter with moderate skills, who arguably doesn’t rate to be ranked in the top 15 by any of the boxing sanctioning bodies in my view. I think we’re going to see on July 16 that Jazza doesn’t belong in the same ring with Rigondeaux. However, it’ll be interesting to see if Rigondeaux carries Jazza the full 12 or if he chooses to destroy him quickly.

Rigondeaux has been traveling to other countries in the last two years of his career to fight different fighters, and I looks like this trend is continuing with his fight against Jazza. In December 2014, Rigondeaux defeated Japanese fighter Hishashi Amagasa in Osaka, Japan. Rigondeaux won the fight by an 11th round knockout. In July 2014 Rigondeaux traveled to Macao, China to defeat Sod Kokietgym by a 1st round knockout.

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