By Jake Donovan
Guillermo Rigondeaux has thus far proven to be invincible in the ring, yet not quite as controlling when it comes to garnering airtime.
The unbeaten wunderkind from Cuba is now in jeopardy of falling prey to the sanctioning bodies.
The World Boxing Organization has issued Rigondeaux (15-0, 10KOs) a "show cause" letter to convince the sanctioning body not to strip him of the title he's held for nearly 30 months. The southpaw claimed the WBO title in a 12-round decision over Nonito Donaire in April '13, laying claim to the World lineal championship in the process.
However, it is now s(p)it-or-get-off-the-pot time for the 35-year old, who has been inactive since an 11th round knockout of Hisashi Amagasa last New Year's Eve in Japan, and with nothing presently on the horizon.
"Since becoming the WBO Junior Featherweight Champion of the World thirty (30) months ago, you have only defended your title only three times, the last one around nine months and seven days ago," WBO Ratings Chairman Luis Batista-Solis, Esq. pointed out to Rigondeaux in a letter issued to the reigning World champion. "The WBO World Championship Committee recognizes your great abilities in the ring and all of your accomplishments both at the amateur and professional levels. This has earned you ample consideration as one of history’s best.
"Nevertheless, it is our duty and obligation to ensure that our Rules are complied with. In your case, we have not even ordered a Mandatory Defense of your WBO Championship in order to allow you the opportunity to compete against any of the top 15 classified contenders within your division in the WBO World Championship Rankings. Despite our flexibility, you remain inactive."
Rigondeaux is presently a free agent and in search of a new manager and promoter. Rumors have swirled of his possibly signing with Al Haymon and joining the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) family, though such talks remain as gossip for the time being. Top managers Cameron Dunkin and Frank Espinoza have also been mentioned as possible candidates to assume the reins.
Whomever gains control of his career has a daunting task ahead, namely keeping the sanctioning bodies on board. Rigondeaux is still enough of a recognizable name to get by without a belt around his waist - however his very name also invokes memories of some of the bouts that have removed him from the good graces of American television network brass.
For now, job one is finding a way to honor the WBO's mandate that he lives up to the organization rules.
As the Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body points out:
"Section 20 of the relevant parts of the WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests establish that:
“20(a) A World Championship may be lost for breach of contract, for disability to fight or to make the required weight, inactivity, or for any other reason established in the Regulations that govern World Championships…”
Section 1(b)(7) and 1(b)(21), on the other hand, grant this WBO Executive Committee the power and discretion to recommend to the WBO Executive Committee that a title be declared vacant. They hold that:
“SECTION 1. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP COMMITTEE
(b) The World Championship Committee shall have the following powers and discretion:
…(7) To recommend to the President and the Executive Committee that a Title should be vacated if a Champion fails to comply with the WBO World Championship Rules; and…
…(21) To vacate a championship title regardless of cause or fault if the Champion has not defended within a nine (9) month period.”
"In light of all of the above, please be advised that you have a period of ten (10) days upon receipt of this communication to show cause as to why your WBO Junior Featherweight Championship of the World should not be declared vacant. Failure to comply with this requirement will immediately result in the WBO Junior Featherweight Title being declared vacant, without further hearing you," concluded Batista.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.
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