Guillermo Rigondeaux’s Career in Limbo – For Now


by Charles Jay

Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Cuban super bantamweight sensation, will not be able to make a title defense after all on September 15, at least according to a judge in Florida.

David C. Miller has ruled that the rights of manager Gary Hyde should be upheld, since he was not consulted or advised as to the fight itself, which was slated to take place against Robert Marroquin on the undercard of Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Rigondeaux is one of the up and coming stars in pro boxing, and may already be among the game’s pound-for-pound best. Even though he is 31 years old, he has only had ten pro fights, but he’s made the most of them, having already won a world title with four successful title fights following it.

Rigondeaux was a gold medalist in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics at bantamweight, and has won a slew of other titles, including two World Amateur Championships, the World Cups and the 2003 Pan Am Games. It’s quite possible that he would have won the 2007 Pan Am games as well, but instead he decided to defect, along with his teammate on the national squad, Erislandy Lara (best known for being robbed, in the minds of many, against Paul Williams). But that defection was ultimately not successful. Later, he got to Miami through Mexico City, and his career in the paid ranks got underway in May of 2009. It took him less than a year and a half to ascend to the throne as WBA champion at 122 pounds, albeit with the interim belt, defeating Ricardo Cordoba on a split decision. That is the closest anyone has come to beating him.

Hyde and Rigondeaux have been embroiled in a contractual dispute. It stems in large part from a two-year extension that was supposed to take effect in the deal when Rigondeaux won the WBA world title – the non-interim version, mind you – over Rico Ramos in January. Assuming it was valid, Rigondeaux did not want to honor it. Meanwhile, there is also some confusion along promotional lines that will have to be untangled. Top Rank has a short-term deal with the fighter (the deal for the longer term having expired) that would have covered this title defense. Hyde wants to sign a pact with Golden Boy Promotions. Hyde is apparently asserting that he must be involved with any and all negotiations in fights and must sign off on them.

Generally speaking, in boxing the dynamic is that a manager is working for a fighter, not the other way around. The fighter would be working for the promoter, although admittedly it is as an independent contractor. So when managers have disputes with fighters over “permission,” they normally can go to the jurisdiction in which the fight is going to be held, which in this case would be Nevada, and claim their percentage of the purse. However, they don’t usually get to hold up a fight from taking place.

Someone with a promotional contract, on the other hand, may be able to do just that, since the customary language of their agreements is that they have exclusive worldwide rights to promote and fighter, and that even if the fighter wants to work with another promoter, they have to approve it and be compensated. That is apparently the case with yet another character in this drama, Caribe Promotions, which has an existing deal with Rigondeaux, later partnered up with Top Rank, and now says that they should be part of any arrangement that has been made with Rigondeaux. So they have been trying to put an injunction on the fight as well.

Boys and girls, there’s a lesson to be learned here; if you want to go into the boxing business, you better have an attorney by your side at all times.

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