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Guillermo Rigondeaux Refuses to Hang Up His Gloves

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  • Guillermo Rigondeaux Refuses to Hang Up His Gloves

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    By J.J. Alvarez

    The passage of time does not forgive any human being. And no matter how much we fight, there is no magic formula that allows us to defeat the God Chronos. But the talented Cuban southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux refuses to accept that.

    After almost a year away from competitive action, Rigondeaux (20-3, 13 KOs) returns to the ring to face fellow Colombian veteran Jesús Martínez (33-17-1, 16 KOs) on Friday, February 24th at the Hialeah Park and Casino in Miami-Dade County, South Florida.

    Rigondeaux, who turns forty-three this September 30th, has nothing more to prove in the ring. He has conquered glory with two Olympic gold medals and several world titles at both the 118 and 122-pound division.

    The reason he is exposing himself to receiving more blows is both understandable and a heavy burden; Rigondeaux is in financial need. Throughout his career, the little gladiator from Santiago de Cuba has shown intelligence in this demanding combat sport, as well as responsibility and a strong work ethic, which could open doors for him as a coach in the future.

    Rigondeaux, along with some of his friends and supporters, argue that he has received few blows throughout his career, which is in fact true. But now, due to the inexorable passing of years, he is more exposed to a traumatic injury simply due to the logical wear and tear of his body. One must also consider the fact that Rigondeaux will clash with Martínez after a year of not competing and with two defeats in his most recent bouts against two Filipinos: John Riel Casimero and Vincent Astrolabio.

    In his match with Casimero (32-4, 22 KOs) in August of 2021, Rigondeaux fell by split decision. The fight was Casimero’s second defense of the WBO belt in the bantamweight division. Six months later, on February 26th of last year, Rigondeaux lost by unanimous decision against Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) in Dubai. They were battling for the vacant International WBC title.

    A few days after the setback against Astrolabio, Rigondeaux suffered an accident when he was cooking at home and a pressure cooker exploded in his face, temporarily affecting his vision by almost 80 percent and putting into question whether he could continue boxing.

    "I can't tell you how happy I feel to return to do what I like so much, which is boxing," said Rigondeaux. “This is the second fight of my career in Miami, the first in Hialeah. I know I'm in the final stretch of my career, but I hope people respond and come see me. After all, I am part of the history of Cuban boxing.”

    Rigondeaux had a successful amateur career, with two hundred and forty-three wins and only four losses. He won gold medals in the bantamweight division at the Sydney-2000 and Athens-2004 Olympic Games. He also claimed a pair of world titles in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2001 and in Mianyang, China in 2005.

    After being sanctioned for an escape attempt in Brazil in 2007, Rigondeaux managed to leave Cuba two years later and settle in Miami. And in 2009 he debuted as a professional boxer with a knockout victory in the third round against American Juan Noriega, who after the loss walked away from the sport.

    Three years later, Rigondeaux conquered the WBA super bantamweight title, knocking out American (of Puerto Rican descent) Rico Ramos (30-6, 14 KOs) in the sixth round on February 20, 2012. In 2013, Rigondeaux defeated Filipino Nonito Donaire in New York, taking the WBO belt from Donaire and retaining his WBA belt.

    It should be mentioned that Donaire had a streak of thirty fights over twelve years without defeat and was then considered among the best pound-for-pound fighters, which shows the great significance of Rigondeaux's victory in the Big Apple.

    “I think Guillermo Rigondeaux hasn't said the last word in his career yet,'' said Luis de Cubas Sr., event promoter and one of the heads of Warriors Boxing. “I was lucky to be the manager of an already veteran Roberto Durán and he achieved many things when everyone said he couldn't take it anymore. With Guillermo this can happen again."

    Panamanian star Robert Durán, in July 2001, at the age of 50, faced late Puerto Rican southpaw Héctor “Macho” Camacho (11 years his junior) in Denver, Colorado. Durán lost that fight by unanimous decision.

    Recognized as one of the greatest fighters of all time, Durán (104-16, 69 KOs) won world titles in four categories and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, in 2007.

    Rigondeaux’s defensive style has him considered a pure boxing virtuoso by some and a boring fighter by others. "I know it's always been like this and it's very hard to please everyone," explained Rigondeaux. “But on February 24 in Hialeah you will see some changes that will allow me to punch better and please the crowd. I'm already training full time and I just tell people to come see me. You won't regret it."

    Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

    Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.