He might well be the best pure pugilist on the planet. His ability to execute his gameplan, with subtle brilliance, doesn't go unnoticed by a multitude of fight fans. However, in a world which seems increasingly to punish subtlety, and reward excess, the over the top, Guillermo Rigondeaux is, while being regarded almost universally one of the top pound for pound talents, is still finding his place, clarifying his role in the fightgame milieu.
The clarification process will proceed on July 19, on a Macau card promoted by Top Rank.
I reached out to Rigo's manager, the genial Irishman Gary Hyde, who many of you may not know has a history as smuggler extraordinaire. http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/10392313/the-high-priced-underground-economy-smuggling-champion-cuban-boxers-espn-magazine
So, Gary, what poor bast...er, what lucky fella is going to try to solve the Rigo riddle?
"The opponent isn't confirmed, but Jonathan Guzman has been mentioned," he told me.
Guzman is a 24-year-old Dominican with a 16-0 (16 KOs) record built on a tasty diet of journeymen and sub journeymen, for the most part.
Hyde admitted to me he's pleased that this bout signals Rigo's last fight on a Top Rank contract. The Vegas outfit latched on as co-promoter, with Caribe, when Rigo derailed the Nonito Donaire express on April 13, 2013. That bout took place in NYC, known to many folks as a concrete jungle, where many a mugging has taken place. Rigo's mugging of Donaire was pulled off not with a brutish act of thuggery, but one that was more akin, actually, to a slick pickpocketing of a wide-eyed tourist. That mark, from, say, Iowa, was in town to take in the sites, the Lady Liberty and the Empire State Building, but was destined to take the bus ride home demoralized, having been prayed upon in a jungle of concrete and savagery borne of resignation, felt by citizens who seize upon a felonious lifestyle to make ends meet
Yep, Rigo is a different sort of predator, and his methods aren't of the sort which can be appreciated by the masses like a concussion craver, a Golovkin, a Kovolev, etc, is.
If it is Guzman, Hyde told me, that's not the desired foil for the 33-year-old Cuban defector, who boasts a 13-0 (8 KOs) record. Hyde and Rigo want XL challenges, or what passes for XL challenges in the junior feather territory. "I want to be finished with this contract, with the hope of moving on to a more lucrative deal," Hyde continued."
I'd heard Rigo, who holds the WBA crown, with Scott Quigg holding the WBA's junior version of the same, seeks a clash against Carl Frampton, the 18-0 Irishman? Correct, Mr. Hyde?
"Not at all," he replied. "I tried to get him interested but he will avoid Rigo at all costs. I like a fight against Leo Santa Cruz (27-0-1, holds WBC super bantam crown)."
(((NOTE: A few hours after this story posted, the WBC sent out this release, which seems to indicate Frampton-Santa Cruz is a near-term possibility:
WBC superbantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz wants to defend his title against undefeated Carl Frampton and is willing to travel to Belfast for the biggest purse of his career....so far! In an interview, Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KO’s) said that he would travel to Belfast if he can get a wage. “Facing Frampton in Belfast is my first option. I’ll be ready to fight him in July. I don’t care if I have to fight in Belftast. I know Frampton is a good boxer but I’m the champion and I can KO him! ” Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan, himself an ex world champion, said: "If Santa Cruz comes to Belfast I can make him an offer he won’t refuse. I’m happy to know that Santa Cruz is willing to travel here. If this fight takes place in July it's just perfect for us. We’re negotiating with Golden Boy and we hope we can reach an agreement."))))
As for Rigo's next promotional home, is it possible Rigo finds a place at Golden Boy?
"Quite possible, Mike," Hyde said.
Here's hoping that Rigo's clarification process clears up, that his talent is recognized in a manner it should be, in a more perfect world....