By Jim Dower: Last Friday the management for WBA World super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 11 KOs) and his unbeaten #1 WBA mandatory challenger Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KOs) have made a deal to avert a purse bid that had been previously scheduled for April 4 at the World Boxing Association’s headquarters in Panama City, Panama.
The fight between the 36-year-old Rigondeaux and 30-year-old Flores is set to take place on June 17 on HBO pay-per-view at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Rigondeaux-Flores will be fighting on the undercard of the Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II rematch, although the negotiations for that fight still haven’t been completed.
Flores won the interim WBA World super bantamweight title 2 years ago in beating Oscar Escandon by a 12 round split decision on April 18, 2015. Flores has since successfully defended his interim WBA 122 lb. title wice in beating Luis Emanuel Cusolito and Paulus Ambunda. Flores looked good in bneating both of those fighters. However, neither of them is in the same league as Rigondeaux in terms of talent.
Rigondeaux last fought on July 16 last year in defeating an over-matched James Dickens by a 2nd round stoppage. That was a fight that took place at the Ice Arena in Cardiff, Wales. Rigondeaux took a lot of abuse from boxing fans for facing an opponent so far below him in talent. Dickens didn’t look that bad despite losing the fight. He was landing some nice shots. However, Dickens was hit hard by a big punch from Rigondeaux in the 2nd round. The shot broke Dickens’ jaw, and he was unable to continue after the round ended.
Rigondeaux was supposed to face Flores on February 25, but the fight was unable to take place due to the cancellation of the Miguel Cotto vs. James Kirkland fight. Rigondeaux and Flores were going to fight on the undercard of that fight card on HBO pay-per-view. However, Kirkland suffered a broken nose in training and had to pull out of the Cotto fight. In hindsight, it might have been the best thing for the Rigondeaux-Flores fight, because with it now taking place on the undercard of the Ward-Kovalev 2 rematch, it could mean more boxing fan will be seeing the fight. There will likely be a lot more boxing fans tuning in to see the Ward vs. Kovalev II fight card on HBO PPV then there would have been for the Cotto vs. Kirkland fight, which was viewed as a bad mismatch in the eyes of many fans.
The 5’9” Flores hasn’t fought since June of 2016 in beating Paulus Ambunda by a 12 round unanimous decision. By the time Rigondeaux and Flores meet in June, they’ll have been both out of the ring for about a year. That’s bad news for fighters to be losing time in their careers by not staying active. For Rigondeaux, it’s especially important that he fights as much as he can because he’s getting up there in age, and he might not have too much more time left in his career.
Rigondeaux, 5’4”, will be giving away 5 inches in height to the 5’9” Flores in this fight. It’s going to be tough on Rigondeaux to deal with the size advantage that Flores has going for him in this fight. In the past, Rigondeaux had problems with the height and reach of the 5’10 1/2” Hisashi Amagasa and 5’8” Roberto Marroquin. Rigondeaux beat them both, but he was knocked down and even hurt in those fights.
Luis Ortiz battles Derric Rossy on April 22
The battle tested Cuban heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz was added to the Shawn Porter vs. Andre Berto fight card this week for April 2 2 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Ortiz, 38, will be fighting journeyman Derric Rossy in a 10 round affair on the card on Showtime Championship Boxing. However, it’s still undecided whether Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs) vs. Rossy (31-12, 15 KOs) will be televised as part of the Showtime’s broadcast of the Berto-Porter card. The fight card already has a very good co-feature fight between WBC light middleweight champion Jermell Charlo and Charles Hatley. For Ortiz’s fight with Rossy to be televised, Showtime would need to have 3 fights for the card, which begins at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Ortiz has won a lot of boxing fans in his short 7-year pro career since turning pro in 2010. The fans can’t get enough of him. The problem is, Ortiz still hasn’t fought anyone good yet. The fans want to see him step up a level and challenge for a heavyweight title against the likes of Anthony Joshua, Joseph Parker and Deontay Wilder.
Ortiz has reportedly signed with Al Haymon, and this is big news for the 6’4” Cuban’s career. Haymon should be able to get Ortiz a title shot in the future. It’s disappointing that Ortiz still hasn’t fought for a world title despite him being considered to be one of the best contenders in the heavyweight division for the last three years by many boxing fans.
“I’m not a man of many words, but yesterday was my birthday, so with that extra year of experience, I’ll speak a little bit more,” Ortiz said. “I’m ready to fight right now. I’m waiting for the opportunity to fight the winner of Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko [who meet in an April 29 world title fight]. They better get ready, because ‘King Kong’ will be waiting for them.”
Hopefully, Ortiz can get a shot against the winner of the Joshua vs. Klitschko fight, because it would give the boxing public a chance to see how well he can do against one of the best in the division. The 27-year-old Joshua is viewed as best fighter at heavyweight. It would be ideal to see Ortiz fight him now before he gets much older. Ortiz is nearing 40, and it’s unclear how much longer he’ll be able to fight at a high level.
Gennady Golovkin vs. Billy Joe Saunders still a possibility for June 10
A unification match between IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) and WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders (24-0, 12 KOs) is still a very real possibility for June 10 in Kazakhstan. It’s only been 2 weeks since Golovkin defended his titles successfully against Daniel Jacobs on March 18 in Brooklyn, New York. Saunders, 27, has been pressing hard to encourage Golovkin to quickly agree to the unification fight and sign a contract for the fight. Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler is taking his time because he’s been in negotiations with Saul Canelo Alvarez’s promoter Eric Gomez of Golden Boy Promotions.
If the Golovkin-Saunders fight gets made, it won’t be in the UK. If the fight gets made, it will be in Kazakhstan, the home country for the 34-year-old Golovkin. Saunders is accustomed to putting his fights together quickly in his career. He doesn’t seem to be as patient as he needs to be. The bigger fights take more time to put together. If the Golovkin fight does happen, it’s not going to be put together quickly. Saunders has given Golovkin a deadline for the fight, but that’s not going to help matters.
Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy is advising Loeffler and Golovkin not to take the fight with Saunders in June. Loeffler and Golovkin will obviously not allow themselves to be dictated to by De La Hoya and Canelo. They’ll take the fight with Saunders if that’s what they want. The Saunders fight could depend on whether Loeffler can put together a fight against Canelo for September in the next couple of weeks. Loeffer isn’t going to walk away from a fight with Saunders if he doesn’t have a fight with Canelo signed, sealed and delivered.
The southpaw Saunders is a good fighter with a lot of talent that could give Golovkin problems. Saunders is trickier than Golovkin’s last opponent Daniel Jacobs, who used movement to give him problems in their fight on March 18. Saunders returned to the ring after a year out of action last December to beat Artur Akavov by a 12 round unanimous decision. Saunders freely acknowledged that it wasn’t one of his best performances.
The Saunders fight is a risky one for Golovkin due the huge money on the line for the Saunders fight. If Golovkin is going downhill like some boxing fans believe him to be, then it might be a bad idea for him to fight Saunders right now. Saunders is a smart fighter, and he’ll make sure that he improves on the performance that Jacobs put in. The fight was there to be won by Jacobs, but he let it slip through his fingers by not being busy enough in the first 6 rounds. Golovkin faded in the last half of the contests, and Jacobs was able to win most of the last 6 rounds of the fight.
Saunders is a fast starter in his fights. He’s going to give Golovkin a lot of headaches early on. The only question is will Saunders be able to make it through the early part of the fight against Triple G in order to expose his questionable stamina in the second part of the fight. Saunders has a good chin, and he might be able to take Golovkin’s best power shots if he doesn’t stand stationary.