By: Hans Themistode
Two seems to be the favorite number of current WBA “Regular” Bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Back in 2004 he took home the gold medal in the Olympic Games, in Athens Greece. Four years later, he followed that up with another gold winning effort. This time, in Beijing China.
Since turning pro, his success hasn’t slowed down in the slightest. He defeated Ricardo Ramos for the WBA Super Bantamweight world title in 2008 and made several defenses of his aforementioned title. Fast forward eight years later, and Rigondeaux found himself as a world champion once again.
On February 8th, at the PPL Center in Allentown Pennsylvania, the now 39 year old Rigondeaux made it look easy in defeating fellow former champion Liborio Solis for the vacant WBA “Regular” title.
There’s a theme building here. Rigondeaux has two gold medals in his possession and he is now a two weight world champion. He now has his eyes set on claiming something else for the second time.
In 2013, Rigondeaux received the chance to face off with sure fire hall of famer Nonito Donaire. At the time, Donaire was considered a top three pound for pound level fighter. The chances of Rigondeaux pulling off the upset were infinitesimal at best. Just chalk it up as another win under the belt of Donaire is what most observers believed. That narrative was quickly put to bed as Rigondeaux cruised to an easy unanimous decision victory on the night.
Rigondeaux was considered the monster in the division. The man no one truly wanted to step inside of the ring against. Now however, that distinction has been stripped and given to another fighter.
Naoya “Monster” Inoue.
When you peel away the bright smile and the unassuming look on the face of Inoue, you will quickly see why he is considered a “monster”.
With just 19 fights under his belt, Inoue has beaten several world champions. He defeated a loaded field during the World Boxing Super Series tournament, and now, he currently has a date with fellow titlist John Riel Casimero with the opportunity to grab the WBO belt to add to his already overflowing collection that includes the WBA and IBF hardware.
Not many are fully interested in facing off with Inoue but not only is Rigondeaux interested, he is chasing down the fight now that he is in his natural weight class.
“He’s an excellent fighter, great fighter. Warrior,” said Rigondeaux on how he views Inoue as a fighter. “But now I’m in my weight, before I was fighting guys bigger than me. Now I’m in my weight, let’s go ‘Monster’ hunting.”
The former two time olympic gold medalist has always been confident in his abilities, so his willingness to chase down Inoue isn’t entirely surprising. As for how he expects a contest to go between the two, Rigondeaux anticipates a chess match.
“Once you start, people start adjusting. He’s got a lot of things that I do too, he’s a well rounded boxer, so we’re both gonna make incredible adjustments when that fight comes.”
As previously mentioned, Rigondeaux seems to be enamored with the number two.
A win over Inoue would present him with the second win of his career over a pound for pound level fighter, which would fit perfectly next to his two gold medals and two championship titles in the Bantamweight division and Super Bantamweight division.
It would be a major cap in what has already been a fantastic career for Rigondeaux. But the question is, when the time comes, will he be able to pull it off?