One of boxing’s finest technicians—who make his PBC debut tomorrow night on an FS1-televised card in LA—believes the best is still to come.
Above all else, that is what made Guillermo Rigondeaux realize that signing a long-term contract with Premier Boxing Champions was a move he had to make late last year.
At 38, Rigondeaux recognizes he doesn’t have any more time to waste.
The one-time amateur star has fought just 19 times since making his pro debut nearly 10 years ago. Since his 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Drian Francisco in November 2015, the skillful southpaw has boxed a grand total of nine rounds.
That troublesome trend will end Sunday night, according to Rigondeaux.
That’s when the former WBA and WBO super bantamweight champion is scheduled to return to the ring for his first fight since suffering his first pro defeat, to Vasyl Lomachenko, in December 2017. Cuba’s Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs, 1 NC) will meet Mexico’s Giovanni Delgado (16-8, 9 KOs) in an eight-rounder on the Jose Uzcategui-Caleb Plant undercard at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The Rigondeaux-Delgado bout will be broadcast by Fox Sports 1 as part of a prelims telecast that starts at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
“These are the last couple years of my career,” Rigondeaux said through Alex Bornote, his manager and translator. “I don’t have much time to lose. I’ve never had a promoter that’s put the right opponents in front of me and kept me active. I’ve fought once a year, twice a year, and it hasn’t been because I haven’t been ready.
“I always want to fight, but nobody wants to fight me. Not being able to fight the right fighters in my weight class – even guys like [Abner] Mares, [Leo] Santa Cruz, at least the guys at 126 [pounds] – I had to reach out to a 130-pounder. Other than Lomachenko, who else was really challenging for me and would’ve fought me?”
Rigondeaux was so desperate to prove himself against a top opponent, he moved up two divisions, from 122 pounds to 130, for the opportunity to battle Lomachenko. He was confident he could overcome their weight difference, but it was too much for Rigondeaux to withstand.
The Miami-based boxer says he weighed only 129 pounds on fight night. Lomachenko weighed 138 pounds, the contracted maximum, at a second-day weigh-in the morning of their fight in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Rigondeaux guesses that Lomachenko out-weighed him by at least 10 pounds once they entered their ring.
Their skill and healthy respect for one another turned the highly anticipated showdown to a clumsy clash full of clinches and fouls. Rigondeaux suffered an injury to his left hand and decided he couldn’t continue after the sixth.
“It was really hard for him,” Bornote said. “He’s never lost. Even as an amateur, there were very few times that he lost. But he understands it was a weight issue. Once he got in the ring, that extra weight [Lomachenko] put on above 130 really took a toll on him.”
The loss cost Rigondeaux his WBA “super” world super bantamweight title. The WBA strangely permitted Rigondeaux an exception to fight Lomachenko at 122 pounds, rather than partaking in its mandated immediate rematch with Moises Flores, under the condition that he would lose his 122-pound championship if he lost a 130-pound title fight against Lomachenko.
The disciplined Rigondeaux remained in shape throughout the disappointing aftermath of his first professional defeat. Eventually, he came to an amicable agreement with his former promoter, Roc Nation Sports, to terminate his contract and became a free agent early in August.
Signing with PBC has encouraged Rigondeaux. He hopes to box elite opposition at 122 or 126 pounds during the twilight of his career.
“He’s back to his original weight,” Bornote said. “We’re willing to fight anybody now – anybody that’s really challenging for him, that people want to see. We’d like to a get a couple belts at 122 again, but if something challenging comes up at 126, we’re willing to go to 126, to give people what they want.
“We’ll try to get people from overseas, the [Carl] Framptons or anybody like that, or anyone here [in the United States]. That’s why we went with PBC. They present the most challenging opponents for him in or around his weight class.”
For a closer look at Guillermo Rigondeaux, check out his fighter page.
- Guillermo Rigondeaux