By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Guillermo Rigondeaux delivered a performance to remember Saturday night, just not for the right reasons.
Rigondeaux was credited with a first-round knockout of Moises Flores in their 122-pound title bout, but clearly connected with the fight-ending punch after the bell sounded to end the first round. Referee Vic Drakulich didn’t disqualify Rigondeaux or rule the fight a no-contest, though, and allowed the controversial result to stand at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The Cuban-born Rigondeaux (18-0, 12 KOs), a two-time Olympic gold medalist, threw the consequential left hand just as Flores seemingly threw a right hand after the bell.
Mexico’s Flores (25-1, 17 KOs, 1 NC) couldn’t continue and remained on his back for a couple minutes before his handlers helped him sit on a stool. Drakulich conferred for several minutes after the fight ended with Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett, reviewed video and came to the conclusion that Rigondeaux deserved to win the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev undercard bout by knockout.
Flores, 30, entered the fight as the WBA’s interim champion at 122 pounds and Rigondeaux’s mandatory challenger.
The fight was the first for Rigondeaux in 11 months. Prior to Saturday night, he hadn’t boxed since July 16, when he defeated England’s James Dickens (22-3, 7 KOs) by second-round knockout in Cardiff, Wales.
Flores ended an even longer layoff Saturday night. Before facing Rigondeaux, he hadn’t competed since topping Paulus Ambunda (24-2, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder last June 11 in Ambunda’s hometown of Windhoek, Namibia.
The Rigondeaux-Flores fight was postponed nearly four months because the headliner of the February 25 card on which it was supposed to take place, Miguel Cotto-James Kirkland, was canceled when Kirkland reportedly suffered a broken nose during a sparring session.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.