Can Guillermo Rigondeaux revive his career?
By Alex Fesl: This past weekend, 42-year-old former multi-division champion, Guillermo Rigondeaux, made his return to the ring after being sidelined for almost a year. Surprisingly, Rigondeaux has recovered quite fast after a pressure cooker accident last summer nearly caused the former champ to lose his vision completely. Looking ahead, Rigondeaux seems to be intent on resuming a championship run yet again. It will be interesting to see what Rigondeaux has left in his tank after so many years dedicated to the sweet science.
For the fight itself, Rigondeaux 21-3 (13 KOs) took on journeyman Jesus Martinez 33-18-1 (16 KOs) at the Hialeah Park Racing & Casino in Hialeah, Florida. Rigondeaux made quick work of Martinez by walking him down easily and throwing vicious body shots and powerful left hands when he closed the distance.
Martinez did not make it past the first round, losing by knockout. With this win, Rigondeaux stopped a two-fight losing streak. Rigondeaux previously had lost a disappointing decision to Vincent Astrolabio in Dubai last year and also lost a split decision to John Riel Casimero in late 2021 in one of the most dreadful fights ever witnessed. This win puts Rigondeaux back in the mix for the seemingly vacant bantamweight after superstar Naoya Inoue is set to move up to super bantamweight to take on the unified champ Stephen Fulton.
Against Martinez, Rigondeaux uncharacteristically came forward aggressively, looking to land powerful punches. Even in Rigondeaux’s previous knockout stoppages, he would be fighting in his elusive defensive counterpunching style. Could we be witnessing a change in approach from Rigondeaux? Perhaps, more likely, Rigondeaux may just have no legs left at this point in his career.
Quite interestingly, former Cuban teammate Erislandy Lara has undoubtedly abandoned his similar elusive counterpunching style recently. Since his draw with Brian Castano back in 2019, Lara has shown a much more willing to exchange with opponents rather than moving constantly. Lara can now be seen staying in the pocket and looking for sharp explosive counters to take out his opponents. Fittingly, Lara is now the secondary WBA middleweight champion behind Gennady Golovkin. The change in style, intentional or not, has seemingly helped revive Lara’s career. Maybe the same can be said for Rigondeaux.
Outlook at Bantamweight
With Naoya Inoue moving up to super bantamweight, Inoue officially vacated his WBC, WBA, WBO, and IBF belts, respectively. So far, the WBA has ordered Takuma Inoue (younger brother of Naoya Inoue) to take on Liborio Solis for the vacant WBA belt. Nonito Donaire is rumored to be taking on Alejandro Santiago for the vacant WBC belt. Jason Moloney is rumored to be fighting for the vacant WBO belt. The IBF has ordered Vincent Astrolabio (recent Rigondeaux opponent) to take on Emmanuel Rodriguez for their respective title.
So far, of those rumored fights, only Takuma Inoue vs. Liborio Solis is officially scheduled for April 8th in Japan.
Even at 42 years old and perhaps with lingering issues from the pressure cooker accident, does Rigondeaux have what it takes to compete with the remaining elite fighters at bantamweight?
Let me know in the comments what you think.
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