How can it be that one of the most gifted boxers in recent times fails to attract an audience?
Unfortunately for Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux, that sadly remains the case.
HBO officials and casual fans groan whenever his name is brought up. The network has an unenviable task of making a profit from a fighter who has no fan base, despite clearly dominating a division.
Ludicrous though it may sound, but being enormously talented means casual fight fans turn off almost as soon as he comes into the ring. Before the ending of his one-sided victory over Joseph Agbeko last time out, a majority of observers exited the arena before the second half of the bout.
The main reason? No one can get anywhere near the 33-year-old; he is nigh on untouchable in the super bantamweight division. Rigondeaux is one of very few that master the age-old art, which is “to hit and not get hit.”
His clash with Nonito Donaire last year was touted as a super fight, the Filipino riding on the crest of a wave after four wins in 2012 and tipped by more than a fair share of writers to topple Rigondeaux. Save for a tenth round flash knockdown, a despairing Donaire hardly got near his superior opponent and lost a unanimous decision.
That very fight, which could have theoretically thrust ‘Rigo’ into superstardom, had exactly the opposite effect. As the all-action Donaire tried to figure out the Cuban conundrum, Rigondeaux picked him off with ease and completely nullified any forthcoming threat. Fans around the world began to think; if Donaire can get nowhere near him, who can?
Now entering the last fight of his HBO deal in a July 19 bout with Jonathan Guzman, who has 16 knockouts from as many outings, the outstanding former amateur has decisions to make over his next steps.
His lack of English or unassuming personality may make him an unattractive proposition for some promoters, but he lets his unique skills do the talking inside the squared circle.
It’s a bizarre situation where Rigondeaux’s manager, Gary Hyde, has resorted to calling opponents and promoters out via Twitter. Any super bantamweight fighter in the world could have an almost free shot at the Cuban’s crown, but ‘El Chacal’ barely even receives a mention from his understudy in the WBA division, Scott Quigg, or the likes of Carl Frampton and Kiko Martinez.
They argue there is no money in the fight, which is fair given his fight attendance statistics in the USA, but it’s hard to believe Britain’s most die-hard fans would not turn out for a Manchester clash with Quigg.
Money is little more than a excuse. Quigg's promoter, Eddie Hearn, fails to even recognise Rigondeaux is the WBA leader and talks of 'unification' matches for his charge.
Boxing's core supporters around the world would jump at an exclusive chance to watch the Cuban wizard at work. The States are blessed with top fighters on show almost every weekend, but other countries are not so fortunate in having such deep talent pools.
Granted it is not the easiest of promotional jobs, but it is by no means an impossible to task to market Rigondeuax. If someone was to invest time, money and patience into the exceptionally talented boxer, he could become a global draw almost instantly.
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