By Chris Robinson
Two-time Cuban gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux created more buzz for himself this past weekend with his dramatic finish of then-WBA junior featherweight champion Rico Ramos.
Fighting inside of the Palms Resort in Las Vegas, Rigondeaux registered knockdowns in rounds one and six, the latter ending the fight as Ramos was counted out by referee Joe Cortez on Showtime’s airwaves. The win garnered the 31-year old Rigondeaux his first world title and people have eagerly begun to eye his next move.
Catching up with veteran HBO analyst Larry Merchant recently for our weekly column, I got his take on Rigondeaux’s recent slaying.
“His kind of style is hard to beat,” Merchant said of Rigondeaux’s tentative yet sometimes explosive nature. “It’s hard to cope with, I should say. It’s a cautious style. He moves forward but fights like he’s going backwards. I’ll put it that way. It’s a cautious style but it can be very effective when it’s employed by somebody as smart and quick as he is.”
On February 4th Merchant will be in San Antonio, Texas, calling the action from ringside when Fil-Am star Nonito Donaire meets former champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the vacant WBO junior featherweight crown. Rigondeaux had been calling to face the winner yet Merchant is unsure whether either would be interested in such a proposition.
“It intrigues me but I don’t know if it would intrigue them, the fighters themselves,” Merchant explained. “They have managers or advisors [who] can see the difficulty in fighting his style. I’m not sure they’re going to be eager to fight him just yet. He’s obviously a talented fighter but who knows who he is?”
Donaire recently told BoxingScene.com’s Ryan Maquinana that he is so turned off by Rigondeaux’s calculating style that he would prefer not to fight him, instead citing fellow Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa as a potential foe down the road.
Interestingly enough, it’s Gamboa who also crossed Merchant’s mind, but as a possible opponent for Rigondeaux, not Donaire.
“Maybe he ought to fight Gamboa. They’re looking for an opponent for Gamboa aren’t they?" Merchant asked. "Maybe there will be some attraction in an aggressive, crowd-pleasing fighter like Gamboa, who’s also Cuban, against another Cuban who is a bit more technical. It could be an interesting fight at featherweight. My guess is that the winner of Donaire-Vazquez isn’t going to be eager to fight this guy right away.”
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