Showtime brings boxing fans a New Year’s championship double-header. One part of that event is Tavoris Cloud vs. Zsolt Erdei, but the other sees WBA Super Bantamweight Champ Rico Ramos defend his title from the fierce challenge of Gullermo Rigondeaux. The latter is already an international amateur legend, but a latecomer to the professionals and in a division that is harshly unforgiving to fighters in their 30s. That makes Rigondeaux the hungriest of fighters — the man in a “now or never” position to earn fame and big paydays — and therefore the stiffest imaginable opponent for Ramos.
Guillermo Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs)
5’4 1/2″ tall, 31 years old, southpaw
Rigondeaux’s background as a Cuban amateur explains why a 31 year old 122-pounder is merely 8-0, but also why he is in title contention. As an amateur, Rigondeaux racked up a record of 400-12, won two Olympic golds, and reigned as the Cuban national champion in his weight class for seven years. He defected with Erislandy Lara in 2007, only for the pair to be arrested in Brazil, shipped back to Cuba, and escape a second time to Mexico. Rigondeaux is widely considered to be one of the greatest amateur boxers of modern times, and is undoubtedly a slick, clever customer with excellent skills.
Rico Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs)
5’5″ tall, 69″ reach, 24 years old
WBA Super Batamweight Champion
Ramos might not have Rigondeaux’s amateur pedigree, but he enjoyed a respectable amateur run in the United States, ending with his loss to Raynell Williams for a spot on the ill-fated 2008 Olympic squad. He is a sound, aggressive boxer-puncher who employs good hand speed and works in hard combinations. He won his title in his last fight, knocking out Akifumi Shimoda of Japan with a single punch.
Rigondeaux vs. Ramos Preview & Analysis
The amateurs aren’t the pros, and on the surface that ought to mean Ramos will take Rigondeaux out to deep waters and drown him. However, Rigondeaux has come up quickly in his eight fights. Last year he tangled with Ricardo Cordoba, a fringe contender and a guy who challenged multiple times for a world title, often earning a Draw in those challenges. Cordoba is no slouch, and it says a lot when a man in his 7th professional fight can earn a Split Decision over him. In his last outing, Rigondeaux knocked out undefeated Irish prospect Willie Casey in one round.
So the mixture of attributes in this fight are as complex as they are unusual. The challenger, Rigondeaux, has the stuff of greatness. He isn’t a novice, but is very far from being a veteran, and yet is nonetheless the older man. Ramos is a good fighter and well-seasoned, but so young he is not yet truly in his prime.
Yet there is a lot to like about Rigondeaux. Cuban fighters generally transfer into the pros as well as Americans, Mexicans and other Western Hemisphere amateurs, and he was a brilliant amateur. His ring smarts are carrying over well, he is learning quickly, he has good power and he is greasy fast. Also, while both men are undefeated, confident fighters, Rigondeaux has two extra points driving him on. First, the Cuban is already an illustrious and esteemed champion, so his self-confidence is enormous. At the same time, he is also the hungry one and racing against a ticking clock.
Rigondeaux vs. Ramos Prediction
Ultimately, Ramos’s power and combination punching will give Rigondeaux the kind of challenge the Cuban has never faced before. It might even be enough to overwhelm Rigondeaux, sending him reeling or to the canvas. However, he will figure Ramos out, adapt, and start racking up the points.
Also, let’s not forget that Rigondeaux can crack as well, and is faster to boot. If the two start trading freely, Rigondeaux ought to beat Ramos to the punch.
Prediction: Guillermo Rigondeaux SD12