Guillermo Rigondeaux couldn’t help but flash back to his own stellar amateur career while bearing witness to the next generation.

Before he became lineal junior featherweight champion, Rigondeaux (20-1, 13KOs) earned Gold medals for Cuba in 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens. The supremely gifted Cuban southpaw is now in line to claim true two-division title status as he challenges WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21KOs). The bout comes on the heels of Cuba’s boxing team hauling five medals in the Tokyo Olympics, including a Games-best four Gold medals.   

"I'm very pleased with the 2021 Cuban Olympic boxing team,” Rigondeaux told “They came away with four gold medals and it brought back some great memories.”

Andy Cruz was the last of the Cuban team to bring hold Gold, outpointing USA’s Keyshawn Davis in the men’s lightweight final. The feat followed the lead of teammates Julio La Cruz (heavyweight), Arlen Lopez (light heavyweight) and Roniel Iglesias (welterweight), the latter who joined Lazaro Alvarez (Bronze at featherweight) as just the tenth and eleventh boxers in history to win three medals. Alvarez is the first to do so in three different weight divisions.  

Rigondeaux claimed both of his Gold medals as a bantamweight, before turning pro in 2009 as a junior featherweight. The Miami-based boxer won an interim title in his seventh pro fight, and a secondary version of the WBA belt following a sixth-round knockout of then-unbeaten Rico Ramos in January 2012. True championship status was claimed after soundly outboxing reigning 2012 Fighter of the Year and recognized junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire in April 2013, making five successful defenses of the lineal crown before dropping back down to bantamweight last February.

A win over Casimero will make Rigondeaux—who turns 41 in September—the oldest boxer in history to win a bantamweight title. While never short on confidence, a new level of inspiration has overcome the veteran boxer heading into this weekend.

“I can't lie, seeing my countrymen compete in the Olympics has given me extra motivation to win this fight against Casimero,” notes Rigondeaux. “I'm always going to represent Cuba and this Saturday will be historic for my people when I win this fight."

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox