Guillermo Rigondeaux (seen here in November) overwhelmed Willie Casey today in Dublin. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
You will not see many bigger mismatches than the fight that just ended in Dublin. Cuban amateur legend Guillermo Rigondeaux went on the road to face classic underdog Willie Casey, and ended things in short order with a thorough beating, dropping the Irishman twice before another assault forced the referee's hand, ending the fight in the very first round.
Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KO) looked like an absolute beast. Sure, Casey is the exact right sort of opponent, but even against guys like this Rigondeaux generally waits for counter opportunities and picks his opponents apart that way. Not this time, though. The Cuban was a fireball and pounded away to hapless Casey's body, hurting him quickly and getting him on his bike.
The first knockdown came when Casey threw a shot of his own, which did land as a glancing blow, but a counter came back and dropped his glove to the mat. Hurt and shaken up, and clearly overwhelmed, Casey chose to fight on and wound up meeting a massive destroyer of a left hand from Rigondeaux moments later, sending him back to the mat. At that point the fight could have reasonably been stopped, but Casey fought on once again, with his back to the ropes, and Rigondeaux wasted no time in making the referee call the bout.
Casey (11-1, 7 KO) deserves credit for taking such a dangerous fight. There was almost no realistic way he could have won this fight, even fighting at home, but he gave it a shot. He's still a legitimate 122-pound contender on the European level, but world stage is likely always going to be too high for him. He just isn't skilled enough.
As for Rigondeaux, if he continues to fight like this, which he has the natural talent to do and do successfully, that idea that he's never going to make fans could go by the wayside. I think today we saw the fighter Top Rank thought they were signing, not the tentative guy from the Ricardo Cordoba fight in November. It's not even just about the gulf in class between Cordoba and Casey, it was a clearly different mindset, and fundamentally different. It wasn't just, "I can hurt this guy so I will," it was a mission to blast him out, and a successful mission at that.
We'll be back later tonight with live coverage of the Lucian Bute-Brian Magee fight on Showtime.