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Guillermo Rigondeaux is ready to put the past year behind him and prove that he’s the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
The 35-year-old, who is regarded as perhaps the greatest amateur boxer of all time, ended his 11-month absence from boxing by signing with a new promoter, music mogul Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Upon signing, it was immediately announced that Rigondeaux would be added to Saturday’s Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez undercard in a bout against lightly regarded Drian Francisco.
“This is a great platform to take my career to the next level, and to showcase my talents on the big stage,” the former super bantamweight champion said through a translator.
At 15-0 with 10 KOs, Rigondeaux joins Cotto and Andre Ward at Roc Nation Sports and is prepared to be more active in 2016.
“While I've been sidelined for the past year, I am grateful for the opportunity to deliver a show to all the boxing fans that have supported me throughout this journey, and I look forward to delivering my best come fight night,” Rigondeaux said.
With the fight against Francisco considered to be more of a showcase than an actual competition, Rigondeaux explained that it’s all part of a bigger plan.
“Bring [Vasyl Lomachenko] to me now!” Rigondeaux told Yahoo Sports when asked if a showdown between two of the best amateur fighters of all-time would eventually take place.
Rigondeaux won gold at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, and his Ukrainian counterpart won gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. It’s a bout that has been long anticipated, and Rigondeaux suggests that he’s ready. All he needs is the right amount of money and an agreed upon weight.
There were rumors last year that Rigondeaux agreed to face Lomachenko at 126 pounds – Rigondeaux currently campaigns at 122 – but those talks cooled when a catch weight came into play. Rigondeaux says that he never agreed to meet Lomachenko at his division weight of 126, and instead feels that they should meet in the middle.
“We never spoke to Bob Arum about fighting Lomachenko at 126,” Rigondeaux said. “I really want to know how much there is to make and he should come to 124. Money talks, [expletive] walks. If you give me the right money, we’ll do it. But in our reality, I’m the king of 122 and he’s 126 so we must meet in the middle.
“One and a half million for a Lomachenko fight is too little and I think it should be more,” Rigondeaux said. “Top Rank [Lomachenko’s promoter] is just too cheap.”
But the reality is Rigondeaux is far from a household name due to his safety-first style and lack of activity. His counterpart is still early in his career and is 5-1 with 3 KOs. Asking HBO to fork over $2 million may simply be bad business. Nevertheless, Rigondeaux believes his amateur accolades have earned him the right to demand more money, and Jay Z’s Roc Nation may be able to deliver.
“Harass Bob Arum to make the fight,” Rigondeaux demanded. “Sign the deal. Let’s get it in writing, and I’ll beat him up. He’s still mad that I beat up Nonito Donaire. But I’ll beat everyone they put in front of me. Let’s make it happen!”
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