Guillermo Rigondeaux: The Next Evolution

WBA, WBO and Ring Super Bantamweight champion Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux closed 2013 with success as he ventures toward the next evolution of his career.

RigoAgbeko-Chris Farina Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank

WBA, WBO and Ring Super Bantamweight champion Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux closed 2013 with success as he ventures toward the next evolution of his career.

Rigondeaux—who is currently 13-0, 8 KOs—exploded on the boxing scene with little warning. The Cuban made headlines on April 13, 2013 with a unanimous decision over Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire who at the time was 31-1, 20 KOs and was ranked in the top five on most pound-for-pound lists.

On that night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, it would be fair to say that many anticipated an action packed fight with the majority favoring a Donaire victory.

The bout demonstrated something much different than many predicted. Rigondeaux solidified his presence in the professional rankings by orchestrating a dominant, pure boxing performance.

Speed, accuracy, footwork, and all around ring generalship appeared to be nothing less than natural from this young, gifted champion as he advanced to a 12-round victory.

As Rigondeaux’s hand was raised as the new champion, one could sense that a new phoenix had risen.  But what followed Rigondeaux in the months to come was anything but welcoming.

Many criticized the newly-crowned champion for what appeared to be a lack of desire to exchange with his opponents. Rigondeaux—who is a legendary amateur and two-time Olympic gold medalist—demonstrates a supreme text book style of boxing.

With well recognized trainer Pedro Diaz in his corner, the duo appears to have dissected boxing into a frame-by-frame art.

Although Rigondeaux controls the ring with grace, the boxing community demands more. Close range wars between individuals seems to be what the fans want to see.

Many well recognized professional boxers, trainers, and analysts all expressed their appreciation for the unique abilities of Rigondeaux, however, most agree that mainstream boxing fans pay to see action packed knockouts.

As a result of the critic’s reviews, Rigondeaux faced many challenges regarding his ability to draw in a fan base large enough to air his fights on HBO as a headlining event.

Despite the controversy, Rigondeaux remained in silence, allowing his promoters and management to pave the way to a headlining event.

On December 7, 2013 Rigondeaux faced off against Joseph Agbeko 28-3, 22 KOs in Atlantic City, NJ. Once again, Rigondeaux swept each round with ease, leading to a 12-round unanimous decision.

Rigo-Agbeko-Chris Farina Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank

It was clear during this bout that Rigondeaux maintained his style and did not give in to the requests of many mainstream boxing fans.

Despite the disappointment of some, it did not change the fact that Rigondeaux again proved to the world that he deserves to be on the main stage of professional boxing.

Although previously distant from the media and his fan base, in December of 2013 a light sparked. Rigondeaux joined the ranks of social media and began reaching out to boxing fans worldwide.

The process may be slow, but it appears that his efforts are moving forward in the right direction. Many boxing fan pages from social media sites have been displaying photographs and engaging in more positive debates in Rigondeaux’s favor.

With this in mind, it would appear that the next evolution has begun.

As the year 2014 approaches, many wonder what might be in store for El Chacal. Round By Round Boxing was able to speak with Gary Hyde, who is Rigondeaux’s dedicated manager, and this is what he had to say regarding Guillermo’s future.

In an ideal world, Rigo would fight Leo Santa Cruz next, but obviously the fact that Top Rank and Golden Boy do not work together will create a problem. Both Top Rank and HBO are very high on Vasyl Lomachenko and while we know that he is in a higher weight division—we note that he weighed 125 lbs for his debut—so he should not have a problem fighting Rigo at a 124 lbs catch weight.

Lomachenko4 Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank

We will step up if he steps down, it’s a give and take to make this fight. But first, Lomachenko has to get passed Orlando Salido, which I doubt will be easy to do. We will also go as far as 124 lbs to fight [Nonito] Donaire. Taking into account that he is not even a titleholder at 126 lbs, this should not be a problem. Rigo’s next fight is going to end with a very exciting knockout victory!

After speaking with Hyde, it is certain that worthwhile options are already in the making. A fight with WBC Super Bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, 26-0-1, 15 KOs would be the most desirable matchup.

Although this is very exciting, as Hyde mentioned, it is very unlikely that this particular matchup can be made as both Rigondeaux and Santa Cruz work with separate promoters.

Would Top Rank’s Bob Arum be willing to cut a deal with Golden Boy for a Showtime bout featuring these two champions? Highly unlikely, but due to the reported controversy between HBO and Rigondeaux it is certainly not impossible.

Vasyl Lomachenko, 1-0, 1 KOs, who is a two-time gold Olympic medalist may too be a potential future opponent for Rigondeaux. Although Lomanchenko is new to professional boxing, it would be fair to say that the style of these two fighters may match up well.

Certainly Lomanchenko will have much to prove in the upcoming months before this could ever be a possibility.

During a post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman on November 9, 2013, Donaire mentioned that a rematch with Rigondeaux was a desired possibility.

As we now know, Hyde has responded on behalf of Rigondeaux and provided a fair catch weight possibility to make that fight happen. It remains to be seen what Donaire says about that.

Rest assure that whomever the next opponent may be—and despite any controversy that may arise—Rigondeaux will continue to evolve.

Will Rigondeaux gift the fans with a highly desired knockout victory? 2014 is around the corner and will soon reveal the next evolution.


Header photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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