Unified junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux opened the year with his own version of fireworks.
Fireworks in Osaka
The former two-time Olympic Gold medalist from Cuba survived two surprise knockdowns to retire Japanese Hisashi Amasaga on his stool in the 11th round of their New Year’s eve bout at the Bodymaker Colosseum at Osaka, Japan.
Making the 6th defense of his world titles, Rigondeaux was in control of the bout until that unfortunate moment in round seven where Amagasa caught him with a right to the chin that sent Rigo to the mat with 30 seconds left in the round. Rigondeaux did not appear badly hurt and immediately got back on his feet. Sensing an upset, Amagasa rushed Rigo and scored another knockdown as the round ended.
However, those knockdowns proved to be the only bright spots for Amagasa as Ridondeaux took control once again in Round 8 with his jab and kept Amagasa at a distance. The “Jackal” then put on the finishing touch in round ten when he put Amagasa down on his rear at the center of the ring with a strong left hand. At that time, Amagasa’s face looked like it had been reconfigured from a possible broken jaw or cheek. Although he made it to the end of the round, he never got off his stool for round eleven and Rigondeaux earned the 10th knockout victory of his career.
Boring Boxing Style
The win in Japan solidifies Rigondeaux’s status as the top fighter in the junior featherweight class. Aside from being the unified WBO and WBO champion, Rigondeaux is the division’s lineal champion after unmasking 2012 BWAA Boxer of the Year Nonito Donaire of the Philippines during their encounter in April 2013. But since that big win, Rigondeaux has not gotten any big fight nor the respect of the boxing audience.
Known as of of the most technically skilled boxers in the sport today, Rigondeaux has often been castigated for his “hit me if you can” style of fighting which boxing experts like Yahoo’s Kevin Iole and ESPN’s Dan Rafael. His “boring” style of defensive boxing has even made major networks like HBO and Showtime shy away from his fights. And despite being a legitimate pound for pound great in this era, Rigondeaux hasn’t been in any big events as of late. The fight in Osaka was his second straight in Asia as he was unable to book a fight in the United States. And if his manager is correct, Rigondeaux has booked his next fight in Japan also.
Rigo-lution Moves Forward
After the win over Amasaga, Rigondeaux once again called out exciting Mexican Leo Sta. Cruz, who owns the WBC version of the junior featherweight crown. However, it appears that Sta. Cruz has other plans. Three days ago, the Mexican champion called Rigo an “uninteresting fight” and favored a May showdown with Golden Boy protege and former champion Abner Mares. Although Sta. Cruz doesn’t have an opponent yet, he is rumored to be booked in the January 17 card featuring Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder.
Sta. Cruz has taken all comers in the past and he doesn’t back down from any challenge. Rigondeaux says that the best fighters in his weight class are avoiding him by calling his style boring and a hard-sell. Whatever happens next, the Rigo-lution will move forward. But unfair as it seems, fans may never see the most technically gifted fighter of this era once again on TV because he is “boring” to watch and yet they shell out PPV money each time Floyd Mayweather dances his way around unworthy foes.