Unified junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux is on the verge of being stripped of one of his title belts because of inactivity.
You might recall in July that Demetrius Andrade, who had not defended his WBO junior middleweight belt in 13 months, was sent a letter by the organization and ordered to “show cause” why he should not be stripped of his title because, under WBO rules, it has the unilateral discretion to vacate a title “if the champion fails to defend his title within a nine-month period.”
Andrade failed to provide any reasonable explanation for his inactivity -- he was not injured and, in fact, had turned down multiple fights for career-high purses -- and he was eventually stripped. Liam Smith and John Thompson will fight for the vacant belt on Saturday in Manchester, England.
Rigondeaux (15-0, 10 KOs), the two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist, known for his slick skills, is in the same position. He is not injured and has been offered fights but has not boxed since getting dropped twice in the seventh round by unknown Japanese fighter Hisashi Amagasa in what was supposed to be a gimme defense on Dec. 31. Rigondeaux eventually stopped Amagasa in the 11th round, but he has not fought since, mainly because none of the American networks have shown any interest in him. In fact, the reason he wound up going to Japan to fight is because none of the U.S. major networks were interested in his fights.
On Wednesday, the WBO sent him and Caribe Promotion a letter ordering them to show cause as to why Rigondeaux shouldn’t be stripped.
The WBO pointed out that he has defended its belt only three times since winning it 30 months ago in a decision against Nonito Donaire in an April 2013 unification fight.
The WBO wrote to Rigondeaux that it “recognizes his great abilities and all his accomplishments as an amateur and professional” but that the organization’s duty is “to ensure that our rules are met. We have not even ordered a mandatory fight to give you more opportunity to compete against any of the 15 ranked fighters in the 122-pound division. Despite the flexibility that the committee has had, you are idle.”
The WBO gave Rigondeaux 10 calendar days “to show cause” why the title “should not be declared vacant.”
If this goes the way of the Andrade case, which seems likely, Rigondeaux will soon be one belt lighter.
Should Rigondeaux get stripped of the WBO title, Mexico’s Cesar Juarez (17-3, 13 KOs) and Donaire (35-3, 23 KOs), ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the WBO ratings, likely would meet for the vacant belt.