One last run for Rigondeaux?

By Boxing News - 11/26/2019 - Comments

By Gav Duthie: On 13 April 2013 Guillermo Rigondeaux shocked the boxing world by defeating then P4P star Nonito Donaire in only his 12th professional fight. Other than a flash knockdown he did it with consummate ease. He immediately took the mantle from ‘The Filipino Flash’ and turned into an overnight star.

The problem, as is often the case with Cuban fighters, he never built on the success. At that time the 122lb division was fantastic boasting Rigo, Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz as champions. These other champions fought each other but left Rigondeaux out of it. He was seen as too much of a risk for too little reward. Eventually in order to get a career defining fight he decided to jump two weight divisions to fight Vasyl Lomachenko.

The move was ill advised but nobody else would fight him. He came to the world stage with a bang but left with a whimper as he quit in the Loma fight with a hand injury. He had the entirety of 2018 off but is set to have his 3rd fight of 2019 as he makes a final run to show how good he really is. At 39 years of age where can he go? Will time run out for him? Will he get the fight his talent deserves.


Any 39 year old in the world will know its easier to put on weight than lose it. Rigondeaux however is moving down to 118lbs for the first time in his professional career at nearly 40 showing he means business. The two time Olympic Gold medalist is fighting for the vacant WBA regular title against Venezuelan Liborio Solis 30-5-1 (14) on 21 December in California on the Harrison v Charlo undercard. This move most likely means he is targeting mandatory challenger status for the WBA super title belonging to Naoya Inoue 19-0 (16).

A win over the Japanese star would see Rigondeaux as one of the best fighters of this era. The question is will the Cuban get the chance. First of all Solis is in the way. He is a handy fighter who should have won a world title against Jamie McDonnell a couple of years ago to add to his Super Flyweight crown he won in 2013. This should be an easy fight for a prime Rigo but his last performance against Julio Ceja rang some alarm bells.

The Ceja Fight

It was an amazing fight in fairness. Great to watch, all action but it just wasn’t Rigondeaux. He stood in front of a known banger and went toe-to-toe. Rigo was behind on all cards when he knocked Ceja out in the 9th round. The question in this instant was whether this was intentional or not. Most would have expected a cat and mouse, counterpunching performance by Rigo and a lopsided unanimous decision. It was a brawl.

Did the Cuban choose to market himself by fighting this way or did he simply just not have the legs to move anymore. He is 39 and that could be the case. Rigo said he wanted to give the fans a fight which is something that he hasn’t done before. Its hard to know if this is the truth. If his legs are gone he can’t beat Inoue, he might not even beat Solis. The other major issue for Rigondeaux is promotional. Bob Arum has just signed up Inoue and with Rigo at PBC it makes matters tricky.

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Top opponents for Rigo

Naoya Inoue 19-0 (16) WBA, IBF
Luis Nery 30-0 (24)
Nordine Oubaali 17-0 (12) WBC
Zolani Tete 28-3 (21) WBO

Luis Nery may move up to 122 after failing to make weight for a fight with Emmanuel Rodriguez last weekend. The other two are extremely talented but wouldn’t draw major interest beyond the hardcore fans. I think it is quite likely that Inoue would knock him out. A fight with Tete would be highly skilled but not great viewing and although 33 year old Oubaali is racking up some impressive wins against the likes of Rau’shee Warren he is not a big enough name for anyone to care.

Getting what you deserve

If you have a look at Cuban compatriot Yuriorkis Gamboa 30-2 (18) he is finally getting the fight his career deserves as he takes on Gervonta Davis 22-0 (21) next month. Gamboa like Rigo was a top P4P fighter who never really managed to capitalise on his abilities during his prime. Today Gamboa has little chance to defeat Davis. He is well past his best but the opportunity is there, it is up to him to take it and hopefully Rigo, 2 years Gamboa’s senior gets the same opportunity to close out his career at the highest level with the aim to prove just how good he is.