Rigo to Fight in China, But Then What’s Next?
Guillermo Rigondeaux’s final fight with his current Top Rank contract will be his July bout against Sod Kokietgym in Macau, China. What happens next is still the big question.
Top Ronk honcho Bob Arum confirmed that Rigondeaux will be defending his WBO, WBA and Ring Super Bantamweight titles on July 19 at the Venetian Macau’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China. The bout will be the final installment of his three fight promotional contract with Top Rank. Arum said that unless Rigondeaux “makes a big hit” in Macau and convinces HBO “put him back on the air again”, the fight will be the “end of the contract.”
HBO has refused to air Rigo’s fights after his December 2013 bout with Joseph Agbeko put up incredibly low numbers. Arum says that Rigondeaux’s style is not marketable especially in the US and that the absence of a market coupled with HBO’s refusal to air his fights have forced him to attach the Cuban’s title defense on the July 19 card in Macau.
The 13-0 (8KOs) Rigondeaux will be facing 36 year old southpaw Sod Kokietgym of Thailand. Kokietgym has a record of 63-2-1 with 28 KOs. His two defeats came from junior featherweight world title bouts against Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico. Those two losses were also Kokietgym’s only fights outside Thailand.
Arum dubbed the fight card as “Gold Rush” as it will headline 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist Zou Shimming of China. Zou is the reason why Arum is making a determined boxing campaign in Asia, particularly in Macau, China.
The 33 year old flyweight is the face of Chinese boxing and is its most popular athlete since basketball player Yao Ming. Zou has a record of 4-0 with 1 KO. All of Zou Shimming’s fights have been in Macau.
Undefeated Mexican super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez will also be fighting in the undercard. The 22 year old Ramirez has a record of 28-0 with 22 KOs.
Arum said that the Zou and Ramirez bouts will be shown on US TV via a slightly delayed basis on HBO2 while the Rigondeaux-Kokietgym will air on same-day delay on UniMas “Soleo Boxeo Tecate” series, a Spanish-language boxing show that Top Rank has exclusive rights on.
Big Question Mark
Rigondeaux’s Olympic and defensive boxing style is the reason for his troubles. The 33 year old “Jackal” is one of the most elusive targets and best defensive fighters in the sport. But his “catch me if you can” style has created dull fights devoid of action and this has prompted HBO and the paying fans to shy away from his bouts.
Rigondeaux had a big 2013 when he easily defeated 2012 Boxer of the Year Nonito Donaire in April 2013 in a masterful but boring unanimous decision win. But he has been unable to follow it up with a big money fight. He settled to fight Joseph Agbeko in December, but that too failed in the TV rankings.
Arum said that if they cannot work out a new contract, then he would freely let Rigondeaux “walk on the other side of the street” with Showtime if he feels that there is a market for him there. But as for now, Arum says that he “owes” this last fight to Rigondeaux and that Top Rank will honor the contract.
But as to what happens next to Rigo is as good as anybody’s guess.
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