By Jake Donovan
Lineal 122 lb. king Guillermo Rigondeaux and Sod Kokietgym (nee Looknongyangtoy) are fighting way off the U.S. radar this weekend in Macao, China, but their bout still carries an American feel to it.
All four officials for this weekend’s 122 lb. championship bout are being flown in from the United States. The referee will be Mark Nelson, from Minnesota. Scoring the bout from ringside will be Dennis Nelson, also from Minnesota; John Poturaj, from New Jersey; and Glenn Feldman, from Connecticut.
Of the four, only Feldman has previously worked a bout involving either fighter. The veteran judge was ringside for Rigondeaux’ 12-round points win over Robert Marroquin in a Sept. ’12 fight that was fairly simple to score.
Rigondeaux (13-0, 8KOs) fights for the first time in 2014. The supremely skilled Cuban boxer was last seen pitching a 12-round shutout over Joseph Agbeko – at least seen by those who chose to stick around for a headliner that became an unofficial walkout bout at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Much of the crowd had been there to watch New Jersey-based super welterweight Glen Tapia, who was brutalized by James Kirkland in the evening’s co-feature attraction.
By the time Rigondeaux was ready to ply his trade, the crowd began to file out. Those who stayed were subjected to 12 one-sided rounds in which Rigondeaux put on a boxing clinic while Agbeko failed to put forth much of an effort.
The night marked the second straight occasion in which viewers expressed disappointment in the lack of entertainment value to come from a fight involving Rigondeaux. His previous was the best win of his career, which came last April in a 12-round boxing lesson handed to Nonito Donaire, who just two night prior had accepted an award for being named the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) 2012 Fighter of the Year.
The criticism was heard loud and clear by HBO, who televised both of the aforementioned bouts but opted to pass on showcasing this fight. HBO’s sister network HBO2 has routinely aired tape-delayed fights from Macao since promoter Top Rank opened up shop at the casino resort last April. Their coverage this weekend will be limited to two-time Olympic Gold medalist Zou Shiming, who faces Luis de la Rosa in a 10-round flyweight bout; and unbeaten super middleweight contender Gilberto Ramriez Sanchez, who faces Junior Talipeau in a 10-round regional title fight.
Coverage of Rigondeaux’ lineal 122 lb. title defense versus Kokietgym (63-2-1, 28KO) will air later in the evening on UniMas in the United States.
Rigondeaux and Kokietgym both fight in Macao for the first time in their respective careers. Rigondeaux is a two-time Olympic Gold medalist for Cuba, from where he defected in 2009 as he now lives in Miami. Saturday’s title defense is just his third overall fight outside of the United States.
Kokietgym has fought just twice outside of Thailand, both fights taking place in the United States, each of which were against Daniel Ponce de Leon and resulting in the lone two losses of his career. The 37-year old Thai southpaw is unbeaten in his past 37 fights since suffering a 1st round knockout in his rematch with Ponce de Leon in 2006.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox