He is inarguably one of the five best boxers on the planet, and like another fellow, Andre Ward, sitting near the apex of pugilist mountain, I find myself wondering what GuillermoRigondeaux is up to these days.
He’s a fighter…fighters fight, right? If their health permits, and their heart is in it, they glove up, do what they do best. And that Rigo, he’s an ace.
He sports a 14-0 record, and doesn’t lose rounds, let alone fights.
But…where the heck the Cuban-born hitter, who holds the WBA and WBO 122 pound crowns?
I put the question to his manager, Gary Hyde.
What’s the latest and greatest on Rigo, Gary? Got a fight in the works?
“Nothing at this point,” Hyde told me the other day.
He explained that he’s lost Rigo’s ear a little bit, and that some tasty deals have been put on his plate, but the 34-year-old hitter hasn’t bit. Frank Warren in the UK made an offer and RocNation wanted to build around the little but talented pug, Hyde informed me. He told me that Roc offered his kid $1.8 million for three fights in 12 months. Didn’t bite…
Frank Warren wanted to pay $1.8 for three bouts in year one of a contract, plus three bouts at $700,000 per in the second year of a deal. Again, no OK from Rigo. Plus, Rigo would have netted more if he fought 19-0 Irishman Carl Frampton, and the gate would have reflected some 60,000 butts in seats, quite possibly. It leaves Hyde chagrined, he admitted. He’s tried, he said, to convince the Cuban that these deals aren’t chicken feed…but the boxer still isn’t coming to the table.
Rigo, who jetted from Cuba in 2009, listens to a man named Alex Bornote, Hyde told me. The manager says that Bornote asked Hyde if Rigo’s deal with Hyde could be bought out, and the Irish helmet said thanks, but no thanks. He’s invested considerable time and money in the hitter, and isn’t inclined to jet at this time. They are at an impasse, Hyde tells me, with the manager-boxer deal on hold, in his view, because Rigo has declined two promotional contract offers.
Rigo has been promoted by an outfit called Caribe, and Caribe and Top Rank worked together, until Rigo’s last fight. Hyde’s patience with the Caribe crew has run thin, it seems, and he said he believes that the deal with Rigo and Caribe has run out.
“When Top Rank’s contract ran out (after a July bout, the third of a three-fight agreement), so did theirs,” he said.
I reached out to Bornote, and haven’t yet heard back from him. Apparently, he runs a bail band business, according to his voice mail. I also dialed Caribe, and requested a phone back, to get their side. On Wednesday late morning, I spoke to Louis Fonseca, VP of Caribe.
I told him that Hyde said he believes the Rigo-Caribe contract has run out. “That’s news to me,” Fonseca said. “Rigo is signed to Caribe, one hundred percent. It is a valid contract, he has a few years left.”
Fonseca said that in fact the offer from Warren “was not presented to us” and “is news to us.” He said that Rigo not gloving up has everything to do with fighters like Scott Quigg (a 29-0-2 Brit), Frampton and Santa Cruz (a 28-0-1 Mexican living in Cali) avoiding him, because he is a defensive master, and “they know they won’t beat him. That’s the issue.”
As for the Roc offer, Fonseca said he was made aware of it, but he didn’t think the financials were as enticing as some make them out to be. “We had conversations (with Roc). But I don’t want to get into the details,” he told me. “At the end of the day, all the parties need to be on the same page. It’s not a one way street. We are about being a team at Caribe. From day one, we’ve been investing in Rigo as a pro. We’ve supported him through good and bad. People are free to say what they want, say there is not a contract, they can say what theory they want. But Rigo has many years left to have a great career, and we are pushing to get him better fights.”
He noted that some Cuban fighters don’t get the respect they deserve, because of their styles, but said that Rigo’s talent is A plus grade, and noted how Nonito Donaire hasn’t been the same since Rigo bested him on 4-13-2013.
Caribe has some options on the table for Rigo now, Fonseca said, and he didn’t rule out Rigo fighting before the year ends. “We’re working hard to try and make things happen. But we want to work in harmony,” he said.
Hmm, harmony, that’s sometimes in short supply in this red light district of sports…Hyde has been busy trying to decipher Rigo’s actions, he told me, and sent a letter to the fighter trying to make clear that he has rights as a manager, that the fighter can’t unilaterally enter into a new promotional deal, would he be so inclined, without consulting and getting the OK from the manager who has invested heavily in his career. Hyde told me he thinks he did right by Rigo, working to get him a bigger chunk of cash from Top Rank than was originally offered. The Cuban’s purse to fight Nonito Donaire was $750,000, $475,000 for Joseph Agbeko and he grossed a cool $575,000 to fight a B boxer, Sod Kokietgym, in Macau, on 7-19-2014. Hyde has run up Rigo-related legal bills to the tune of $300,000, he alleges, so yes, he’d like to be in a position to recoup.
As of now, it looks like, Hyde is in a holding pattern, a most frustrating one, while his boxer, a most talented technician, is being most active shadow-boxing at the negotiating table. To my eye, this is another example of a guy handing over too much of his athletic prime to inactivity…but we shall have to see how this plays out…I will update this piece as is warranted.
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