Guillermo Rigondeaux will become a part of the movement to reduce the number of WBA titles, intentionally or otherwise.
The two-time Olympic Gold medalist and reigning lineal junior featherweight champion will enter the ring as the challenger for this weekend’s showdown with reigning WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero. Rigondeaux currently holds a secondary version of the WBA bantamweight title, which BoxingScene.com has learned will no longer remain in his possession once the bell sounds for his Showtime-televised main event from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
The matter was directly communicated to Rigondeaux and his team by the WBA.
“We have learned through the media that you will fight John Riel Casimero on August 14 in Carson.,” Carlos Chavez, chairman of the WBA Championship Committee addressed to Rigondeaux in an official letter, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. "Due to restrictions on behalf of the WBO, the fight will not be for the WBA title."
Other sanctioning bodies discourage the practice of allowing its champions to enter title unification bout with secondary WBA titlists. Rigondeaux currently holds the WBA “World” bantamweight title, which he claimed in a win over Liborio Solis last February but has yet to defend, largely due to the pandemic. Naoya Inoue is the sanctioning body’s “Super” champion at the weight.
The WBO initially announced its hesitance to sanction the fight with Rigondeaux’s version of the title at stake, though it has since been confirmed that its belt is now the only one at stake.
Casimero (30-4, 21KOs) will attempt the second defense of the title he claimed in a third-round knockout of Zolani Tete in their November 2019 title consolidation clash at Birmingham Arena in Birmingham, England. The three-division titlist from Ormoc City, Philippines entered the fight as an interim titlist before upgrading following the knockout win.
In his previous outing, Casimero stopped unbeaten contender Duke Micah, also inside of three rounds last September at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Rigondeaux (20-1, 13KOs) has reigned as lineal junior featherweight champion dating back to his April 2013 win over Nonito Donaire. The Miami-based Cuban southpaw—who turns 41 in September—has since dropped down to bantamweight, in part due to an inability to secure a fight as big as the one that awaits him this weekend.
It’s a fight that has become worth the risk of losing his version of the bantamweight title before the first punch is thrown this Saturday evening.
Because the fight is not sanctioned by the WBA, Rigondeaux will be deemed in violation of rule C. 10 (10) covering non-sanctioned bouts as it relates to recognized WBA champions: “An Association Champion or officially recognized contender who participates in a fight without approval or sanction from the Championships Committee, may have his title or recognized status removed.”
As such, Rigondeaux will have to beat Casimero to leave the ring as a recognized bantamweight titlist.
“In light of the aforementioned (rule covering Non-Sanctioned Bouts), this committee has decided that at the moment you enter the ring, the WBA bantamweight title will be vacated,” declared Chavez.
The ruling comes to light at a time when the sanctioning body—through other, far more controversial means—has been forced to admit the error of its ways regarding its championship policy. Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, longtime president of the WBA is officially on record in declaring sweeping reform in eliminating numerous secondary titles beginning this fall.
The decision by Rigondeaux to proceed with a career redefining fight gives the sanctioning body a head start toward achieving that goal.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox