The thorn inside Nonito Donaire’s shoe that has become Guillermo Rigondeaux will likely remain a nuisance for the foreseeable future.
Rigondeaux removed Donaire from the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters after his unanimous decision win April 13 in New York. Rigondeaux’s victory ended Donaire’s 122-pound reign and Donaire immediately moved up to the featherweight division following the fight.
Although he is now in a new weight class, Donaire apparently still has Rigondeaux on his radar. Moments after Donaire defeated Vic Darchinyan in his featherweight debut two weeks ago, he called out Rigondeaux, a native of Cuba and Miami resident since his defection four years ago.
But Rigondeaux now wants to dictate terms and Donaire will likely have to adapt to uncomfortable surroundings.
As Rigondeaux makes Donaire wait, he will continue defending his two sanctioning body 122-pound titles. On Saturday night, Rigondeaux will fight for the first time since the win over Donaire. Rigondeaux will face former bantamweight champion Joseph Agbeko at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. The bout will be televised by HBO.
“We have been anticipating Saturday’s fight for some time now,” Rigondeaux said before a workout Saturday afternoon. “Now it is just time for the fight to come. Agbeko is a good boxer but we are ready for anything.
“I always remained busy and because I haven’t had problem with the weight, the long wait was not frustrating.”
Frustrating could become Donaire’s attempt at securing the second bout with Rigondeaux. If they fight again, Rigondeaux said he will not chase him to the higher weight class, but is willing to meet at a catch weight closer to the super-bantamweight division.
Rigondeaux doesn’t struggle to make the 122-pound limit and often faces a distinct weight disadvantage the night of the fight, when fighters re-hydrate.
“Donaire thought I was the easiest fighter out there,” Rigondeaux said of their first bout. “Now he’s out there clamoring for a rematch. If he is willing to come down to 123 pounds and not weigh more than 10 pounds the next day, I would be willing to give him another beating. I am waiting for him to win another belt so I could take that one from him as well.”
After a successful amateur career which exceeded 400 bouts and highlighted by two Olympic gold medals, Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) won a world title in his seventh professional fight.
“There are many things different than amateur boxing — the obvious one being the 12 round fights,” Rigondeaux said. “If you don’t put complete dedication to your work, you won’t get anywhere. I have kept myself focused.”
One goal that Rigondeaux wants to fulfill soon is defend his titles in Miami. Rigondeaux has not fought locally since Feb. 2010.
“If it were up to me I would have all my fights here in Miami,” Rigondeaux said. “But the promoters never come to an agreement. If we have a fight here, I am certain we will have a capacity crowd. Many of my Cuban compatriots here want to see me fight.
“I am confident that I will fight in Miami next year.”
Rigondeaux’s trainer, Pedro Luis Diaz, believes the win against Nonaire finally shed the perception that his fighter should only be recognized for his amateur accomplishments.
“That allowed us to prove to the world about Guillermo’s quality and competitiveness,” said Diaz, who previously worked with Miguel Cotto. “And he is only going to get better from that fight. Guillermo is completely dedicated to his sport.”
Rigondeaux isn’t the only fighter with a strong local following on Saturday’s boxing calendar.
Cuba native Erislandy Lara will face Austin Trout in a second-tier WBA super-welterweight bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Lara (18-1-2, 12 KOs) earned the match against Trout (26-1, 14 KOs) after his 10th-round TKO win over brawler Alfredo Angulo in June. A victory against Trout (26-1, 14 KOs) could place Lara in a lofty position for lucrative bouts next year, considering the 154-pound class is one of the deepest in the sport.
“My job is to first beat Austin Trout and then, after that, all the other doors are going to open up and I’ll take on all comers,” Lara said. “Right now, I’m focused on busting up Austin Trout’s mouth.”
Showtime will televise the Lara-Trout bout.
• Adonis Stevenson (22-1, 19 KOs) successfully defended his World Boxing Council light-heavyweight title with a sixth-round TKO over Tony Bellew (20-1-1) in Quebec City, Canada.
On the same card, Fort Lauderdale resident Sergey Kovalev retained his World Boxing Organization light-heavyweight belt with a second-round knockout win over Ismayl Sillakh. A native of Russia, Kovalev is now 23-0-1 with 21 knockouts.
• Back at it: Miami’s Randall Bailey returned to the ring after a 13-month absence and won by disqualification against Humberto Toledo on Nov. 23 in Tampa. Bailey (44-8, 37 KOs) had been inactive sine losing his International Boxing Federation title against Devon Alexander in October 2012.