This week's notebook from ESPN's Dan Rafael has a few interesting tidbits of information that hadn't made it over here before:
- Ola Afolabi is in the process of trying to work out the first defense of his interim belt with Contender season 4 champion Troy Ross. My gut feeling on this one is that Ross would win unless Afolabi can up his workrate. On the other hand, Ross doesn't necessarily have the best chin in the world, and he's had stamina problems in the past, so maybe Ross is ripe for the picking while he's at his peak popularity. One problem with the Contender format is we still don't know if those stamina questions have been answered, since none of his fights when past 5 rounds. Still, it could be an interesting stylistic matchup - a tall southpaw who fights tall and has a decent punch against a guy who fights like the heavyweight version of James Toney, sitting in the pocket and slipping shots until he gets the opportunity to throw the big punch.
- Since Andreas Kotelnik decided to go after the bigger money (and probably easier to win) fight with Amir Khan, Victor Ortiz was left without a dance partner. That opponent will now be Marcos Rene Maidana, who lost a close fight to Kotelnik in their last fights. This is probably about as good as we could have expected, and in some ways, Maidana is more dangerous for Ortiz than Kotelnik. Unlike Kotelnik, Maidana can really punch, and he throws a good number of punches, so we'll get to see where Ortiz's defense is, since he hasn't really had the chance to show it off in his last few televised fights. Also, Ortiz supposedly had some chin issues in the amateurs, so it will be good to know how he can take one from a legitimate puncher.
- It still sucks that the IBF stripped Joshua Clottey, but at least they wised up on part of it, ordering Delvin Rodriguez and Isaac Hlatshwayo to fight for the vacant belt. As I previously reported, under their rules they really should be skipping over Rodriguez, who's "unavailable" because he just fought and is still injured from that fight. Hopefully they at least give the two a fair amount of time to work something out. Also, let's hope that someone in the US wins the purse bid.
- It seems like the groundwork has finally been laid for Guillermo Rigondeaux to go pro. Rigondeaux is Cuba's most decorated amateur in recent memory, and has a style that's well suited to the pros to boot. It's been a long time coming. He defected a couple years ago, got sent back to Cuba, was kicked off the boxing team, defected again to Miami a few months ago, and a battle ensued between Arena Box's Ahmet Oner (who promotes Gamboa, Solis, Lara, and a number of other Cubans who recently defected) and Gary Hyde (who promotes Mike Perez and the rest of the other Cubans who have recently defected). Both promoters claimed to have a signed contract from Rignodeaux, and there was a dispute as to whether either of them was legal or whose contract was signed first. It was promising to be a protracted battle, which is the last thing Rigondeaux needs, since he's already smack in the middle of his prime (or possibly at the end of it). Now that this is cleared up, expect Rignodeaux to be moved extremely quickly, probably on the undercards of stablemates Gamboa and Lara. He should be a pro in the stacked 122 pound division. Provided he can build up his stamina and that he has a good chin for the pros, he has enough skill and talent to hold his own against anyone in the division, though like most of the Cubans his footwork is an issue. Here's some video: