The Super bantamweight division is a showcase for much of what is jarringly inept about the way talent is showcased & marketed in the sport of boxing globally as of 2014. Mega talent abounds – public interest (on the global scene) is pitiful in comparison. Guillermo Rigondeaux is a talent perhaps only comparable to the best of the very best at any weight within the sport at this juncture. Léo Santa Cruz is an exciting, highly watchable fighter with a solid to spectacular amateur pedigree himself of 148-7 who was a World Amateur champion at the age of just 15. Scott Quigg & Kiko Martinez round out the major sanctioning bodies belt holders in a division – seemingly – brimming with possibilities.
Possibilities taken to another level by the division’s coming attraction & highly regarded Carl Frampton. Kiko Martinez makes his third defense of his IBF strap – incredulously just 19 months after being stopped in 9 rounds by… Carl Frampton in a bout for the lightly regarded IBF Inter-Continental super bantamweight title. The concept of a world champion will continue to dilute & the wider public’s belief in the authenticity of a world championship will contract yet further for so long as a “world title” shot is but one rehabilitative/tune up fight win away from losing the very same sanctioning body’s “Intercontinental” title.
“I would love to fight Carl Frampton next after I hopefully win my title defence and he beats Kiko Martinez. That would mean there are two World titles on the line and I would come to Belfast to fight Frampton, yes it would be nice to have the fight in America but I would love to fight in the UK. I have said to my manager that I want the fight. It’s the fight the fans want to see, even here in America they now know Frampton and they are saying to me to fight him. It would be a really exciting fight for the public because Frampton is like a Mexican fighter, he comes forward, he’s aggressive and he hits really hard.” ” said Léo Santa Cruz.
This was a quote from 4 September, 2014 (yesterday). I note that similar statements were made (on ESNews as it happens) by Santa Cruz in December 2013 & March 2014.
Quigg vs. Frampton has of late taken on shades of a domestically significant version of the protracted Mayweather vs. Pacquiao non-fight. This should leave the two in a race to land globally significant fights against one of the effective “big two” of Santa Cruz & Rigondeaux. The jury is still out as to whether either of the two British fighters & their management hold the genuine will to match their – in reality – domestic semi-champions (as they’re unwilling or unable to face each other for the time being) against the two men most likely to take their “0’s” & grant world boxing a mini-Golden era within the 122lb weight class.
Rigondeaux was labelled by Freddie Roach as: “Probably the greatest talent I’ve ever seen.” He holds seven Cuban national championships (2000-2006), two Olympic gold medals (2000 and 2004) and two amateur world championships (2001 and 2005). He is one of the most accomplished amateurs to ever enter the professional ranks with a stunning record of 374-12.
On July 22, 2007, Rigondeaux and Erislandy Lara didn’t pitch at the Pan American Games in Brazil. Rigondeaux and Lara were taken into police custody three days later and sent back to Cuba. They insisted they never intended to defect, but ARENA Box-Promotion said they signed contracts. Fidel Castro said, “the Cuban athlete who deserts his delegation is like a soldier who deserts his unit in the midst of combat.” In February 2009 he left Communist Cuba on a smuggler’s boat and landed in Miami.
British boxing promoter Frank Warren was thought to be in negotiations with Rigondeaux‘s representatives – opening up some titillating possibilities down the line should it come to fruition.
As recently as January 2012, though, Rigondeaux vs. Rico Ramos at the Palms in Las Vegas sold just 375 tickets, with a gate of only $14,525. One of the greatest amateurs in history made a mere $28,950 all told from this professional outing from a gross purse of $51,500. Guillermo Rigondeaux made $750,000 from his coming of age win against Nonito Donaire. 1.1 million people tuned in to watch that modern classic exhibition against a pound-for-pound incumbent.
What HBO are acutely aware of is the following: against Joseph Agbeko 25% of the TV audience tuned out, many switching to Paulie Malignaggi-Zab Judah on rival Showtime.
Rigo is thought to be in negotiations with Chris Avalos (24-2). “The fight will be in the United States. I already fought in China. That is done. The next fight will be here in the United States” according to the Cuban. Rigondeaux’s contract with Top Rank expired after his July win over Sod Kokietgym. The muted deal with Warren, though, does have boxing insiders in the United Kingdom talking & excited – something Rigondeaux‘s talent, surely, merits.
“Cautiously I do think that he could get some momentum over here. British fans are generally passionate and discerning and would appreciate Rigo for the right reasons.” Ben Doughty, UK boxing journalist
Frampton vs. Quigg; Frampton vs. Rigondeaux; Santa Cruz vs. Rigondeaux; & Frampton vs. Santa Cruz are all bouts that boxing needs to have made – if only to restore a modicum of legitimacy to the sport attached to a business that is boxing.
Matt Hamilton, for ESNewsReporting.com from London, United Kingdom
Follow me @hamiltonboxing