Guillermo Rigondeaux gets first taste of the big time

Posted by Zotta Rendevouz

He was perhaps amateur boxing's best kept secret. Regarded as one of the greatest amateur boxers ever, two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux (6-0-0-5KOs) gets his first taste of big time prizefighting when he faces Ricardo Cordoba for the Interim WBA super bantamweight title on November 13 at the undercard of Pacquiao-Margarito in Arlington, Texas.

Rigondeaux is a product of the rich Cuban amateur boxing program, and despite only having six pro fights under his belt, is getting a world title shot due to his stellar amateur resume. Usually, boxers who've only fought a total of 22 rounds as a pro do not get title shots, but Rigondeaux isn't your usual boxer. Trainer Ronnie Shields describes him as "the best fighter he's seen in years," while promoter Bob Arum likens Rigondeaux's unique situation to Leon Spinks. Spinks had eight professional fights when he beat Muhammad Ali for a world title in 1978. Arum also said, "I don’t want this to be misconstrued but the Cuban trainers have produced better fighters than anybody else. And the Cuban Olympians are far more advanced than the Olympians from the United States or any other country. It is obvious to me that their program is far superior, at least it has been. Any other fighter who has Olympic experience we wouldn’t be putting him in his seventh professional fight, but this man (Rigondeaux) is special."

Rigondeaux is a very polished boxer, he takes his time and reads his opponents. Aside from being an excellent ring technician, the Cuban is also lightning fast. At an advanced age of 30, Rigondeaux hopes to make up for lost time and is raring to face all the big names in and around his division. "I feel I can fight anybody at 122. I understand that Caballero has moved on to bigger weights, but any of the champions at 122 I know I am ready for," Rigondeaux said during a media conference call last weekend. Arum chimed in saying "There are so many great fights out there especially with the bantamweights coming up like Montiel and Donaire. There are the 126 guys…Lopez and Gamboa. He fits anyplace. Ronnie Shields says he is ready to fight anybody."

The pros and the amateurs are two different animals though, and his opponent Cordoba, who holds a victory over Celestino Caballero, is no pushover. Hardcore boxing fans will definitely be tuning into Rigondeaux's first major test and together with Kelly Pavlik and Mike Jones, add great value to the Pacquiao-Margarito card. Is Rigondeaux ready for the big time? Or was he simply a great amateur? Answers to come on November 13.