By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Nearly eight months passed between Guillermo Rigondeaux’s last two HBO appearances.
Rigondeaux might have to wait even longer before HBO Sports executives agree to put him on the network again. Bob Arum, Rigondeaux’s promoter, understands their reluctance.
The unbeaten Cuban dominated Ghana’s Joseph Agbeko to defend his WBA and WBO 122-pound championships Dec. 7 in Atlantic City. The mostly boring bout drew mediocre ratings, though, and left viewers switching channels to seek entertainment elsewhere following a highly entertaining co-featured fight in which James Kirkland stopped Glen Tapia in the sixth round.
“[With] Rigondeaux, I have a problem,” Arum said. “And you can’t really blame the network. The rating for the Kirkland-Tapia fight was almost double Rigondeaux’s rating. People walked out [of the arena]. If people don’t want to watch, what do you expect a network to do? I don’t care how good we say he is, which he is.”
Rigondeaux’s supporters attacked Arum in the aftermath of Rigondeaux’s victory over Nonito Donaire on April 13 at Radio City Music Hall because Arum indicated it’d be difficult to make Rigondeaux a star due to his cautious, technical style. Arum asked the 33-year-old Rigondeaux (13-0, 8 KOs) and his handlers to fight more aggressively against Agbeko (29-5, 20 KOs), but the two-time Olympic gold medalist seemed content to win easily on points, as opposed to trying to knock out Agbeko.
“They promised me [before] this fight and it started out that way,” Arum said. “But once he hit [Agbeko] a couple times, ‘That’s it. I won the fight.’ And nothing [bleeping] happened for the next nine rounds. It’s very sad, because he’s so good. Maybe if, down the road, I get Lomachenko to fight him, that would be interesting. But I don’t know. Lomachenko will go in and beat the [crap] out of him. That’s a really interesting fight.”
Before being considered as an opponent for Rigondeaux, Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko must first overcome Mexico’s Orlando Salido (40-12-2, 28 KOs, 1 NC) in a 12-round fight for Salido’s WBO featherweight title March 1 in San Antonio. Lomachenko (1-0, 1 KO), also a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, will challenge Salido for a world title in just his second pro fight.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.