Super bantamweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux has his next fight signed, as the Cuban will defend his championship against Hisashi Amagasa on New Year's Eve in Osaka, Japan. Manager Gary Hyde says that he'd prefer to have put Rigondeaux in with another top super bantamweight, such as Carl Frampton, Leo Santa Cruz, or Scott Quigg, but none of them want the fight:
"Unfortunately the only fighters who are prepared to challenge ‘Rigo' are Asian fighters," said Hyde during an interview with RingTV.com. "Santa Cruz. Frampton and Quigg want no part of him so, Asia, here we come again."
Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KO) last fought on July 19 in Macau, knocking out Sod Kokietgym in the first round. The 34-year-old amateur star turned pro champion was once considered a hot TV prospect in the States, but wins over Nonito Donaire and Joseph Agbeko in 2013 did more to hurt his marketability than help it, it seems. The win over Donaire was dominant, and it was a fight that HBO had demanded, but then-promoter Bob Arum said that after that fight, HBO execs would "throw up" when Rigondeaux was mentioned.
He was brought back in December 2013 to fight former bantamweight titlist Agbeko, who deserves much of the blame for their deadly dull 12-round fight.
No longer under the Top Rank banner, Rigondeaux lacks the power promoter to make up for any entertainment deficiencies he may have, and fact is, the power promoter didn't seem that wild about pushing him, anyway. One could even come to the conclusion that his beating Donaire resulted more in punishment and exile than any real gain.
There is no real question that he's the best fighter in the world at 122 pounds, but with no fan base, a tendency for boring fights, and the fact that his former promoters seemed to aggressively market him to the media and fans as a waste of TV air time, this is where his career is at this point.
Amagasa (28-4-2, 19 KO) is the current OPBF featherweight champion, and will be moving down in weight for this fight. He won the belt from Ryol Li Lee in October 2013, and has defended against Vinvin Rufino, Maxsaisai Sithsaithong, and Ryo Takenaka. Rigondeaux is certainly a major step up in opposition for the 29-year-old Japanese fighter, but if Amagasa makes weight OK, he will have some physical advantages. He's listed at 5'10½", which gives him a half a foot of height on Rigondeaux.
The December 31 show in Osaka will also feature Katsunari Takayama vs Go Odaira for the vacant IBF title at 105 pounds, Kazuto Ioka vs Jean Piero Perez, Sho Ishida vs Masato Morisaki, and Ryo Miyazaki in action.