Unified super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux returns to the ring on Saturday night when he faces unheralded Thai challenger—and Spell Check demon—Sod (Kokietgym) Looknongyantoy in a scheduled 12. But Rigondeaux, widely considered one of the best fighters in the world, will not be lacing up under the bright lights of a Las Vegas arena or ripping off southpaw combinations in front of HBO cameras. No, “El Chacal” has to scurry all the way to Macau, China, to work his snooze act and his latest title defense will be aired via tape delay on UniMás.
This is not the first time Rigondeaux, 13-0 with 8 knockouts, has been banished to the outer limits. In 2011, after racing from one side of the ring to the other against Ricardo Cordoba and bringing out every hoot, catcall, hiss and jeer ever recorded by mankind, Rigondeaux had to accept a match in Dublin against a woebegone Irishman named Willie Casey in a fight that could only be seen in the U.S. via internet. Now he faces Looknongyantoy, whose 63-2-1 record says a lot about the number of rickshaw drivers in Thailand who moonlight as heavybags.
Rigondeaux vs Cordoba
A glowering, arrogant technician with an otherworldly amateur record, Rigondeaux, who defected from Cuba in 2007, is as dull as a 6-hour webinar on the history of rain gutters. The Sweet Science does not have official statisticians, but Rigondeaux must certainly have the highest boo-to-punch ratio in boxing. Certainly his attitude makes it harder to enjoy some of his niftier moves. In his showcase win over a year ago, Rigondeaux, 33, befuddled Nonito Donaire over 12 tactical rounds. But even in his shining moment, Rigondeaux poured old dishwater over everything by showing disdain for those who had the audacity to pay to see him perform. Between rounds, he remonstrated with the displeased audience, and in the postfight interview he told Max Kellerman that he did not give a damn about what the public thought.
Against veteran Joseph Agbeko last December, Rigondeaux sent fans scurrying out of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and viewers on HBO switching channels to Don Francisco and Sábado Gigante. Some cross-eyed observers blamed Agbeko for the lack of action that night, but the truth is he recognized immediately what everyone but Rigondeaux realized within a round or two: that Agbeko was completely outclassed. Instead of lowering the boom or putting on a showcase, Rigondeaux chose to coast to a lopsided decision win devoid of passion. Which is why, naturally, he is fighting on Solo Boxeo and not on HBO tomorrow night.
At least Rigondeaux promises a little more excitement when the bell rings at The Venetian in Macau. “I intend to give UniMás and its boxing audience a great show,” Rigondeaux said in a statement. “I plan to be more aggressive to be more impressive. But let me make this clear, I have been a world champion and an Olympic gold medalist for one reason – I do not make mistakes in the ring.” Ah, but average mortals do make mistakes, however, and one of them, equal to shaking a can of Pepsi and having it explode all over your face, sort of, is tuning in to a Guillermo Rigondeaux fight. Thankfully, there will always be a place where Rigondeaux can show off his fine, if bitter, artistry. This time, it will be on UniMás. Next time—who knows?
Carlos Acevedo is the editor of The Cruelest Sport and a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His work has appeared in Boxing Digest Magazine, Maxboxing, Boxing World Magazine, and Esquina Boxeo.