LAS VEGAS -- There was a lot of drama surrounding whether junior featherweight titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux would be able to fight on Saturday night because of the ongoing litigation over his managerial and promotional contracts. In fact, he wasn't even cleared to move forward with his fight until a few days ago.
But for all of that drama, there was precious little of it inside the ring as Rigondeaux cruised to a dominant decision victory against Robert Marroquin and retained his world title on the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs) did score two knockdowns and rolled to a 118-108, 118-108, 118-109 decision win to retain his title for the second time.
Rigondeaux was outboxing Marroquin and catching him with straight left hands, but in the third round, Marroquin announced his presence by rocking Rigondeaux with a strong left hand. Rigondeaux's legs were unsteady and he was looking to hold on, but he recovered quickly. In the fifth round, Rigondeaux flashed his power, dropping Marroquin with a straight left hand.
Marroquin landed a solid right hand that knocked Rigondeaux back in the ninth round, but his offensive moments were quite limited.
Rigondeaux, a southpaw, cruised through most of the fight. Marroquin, whose nose was bleeding in the 11th round, couldn't cut the ring off against the much faster Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux closed out the fight with another knockdown in the 12th round, dropping Marroquin (22-2, 15 KOs) with a clean straight left hand.
"He's very sneaky and complicated and that's why he's the best 122-pounder out there," said Marroquin, 23, of Dallas. "I got a little bit careless and got knocked down. I have never been knocked down before."
Asked if he thought he was, in fact, boxing's best 122-pounder, Rigondeaux said, "I'm working on it."
Rigondeaux said he was impacted by the battle over his contract and whether he would be able to fight. He is embroiled in litigation with manager Gary Hyde and co-promoter Caribe Promotions. But Caribe's last-ditch court effort failed, and Hyde, Rigondeaux and promoter Top Rank worked things out so that he could fight Saturday night. Now, Rigondeaux's deal with Top Rank is up, even though the company hopes to re-sign him.
"I didn't sleep the past few days because of so many things happening here, fighting, not fighting," said Rigondeaux, 32, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who defected from Cuba and now lives in Miami.
Rigondeaux was making his second defense of the 122-pound belt he won in January with a sixth-round knockout of Rico Ramos. Rigondeaux's first defense, in June on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. undercard, was an ultra-impressive blast-out of Teon Kennedy. He dropped Kennedy five times in the fight.
Martinez claims vacant belt
Junior lightweights Roman "Rocky" Martinez (26-1-1, 16 KOs) of Puerto Rico and Miguel Beltran Jr. (27-2, 17 KOs) of Mexico waged a thrilling brawl with plenty of action to satisfy the crowd, but it was Martinez who came away with the split decision victory to claim a vacant junior lightweight title.
Referee Russell Mora docked a point from Beltran for hitting behind the head in the 11th round. It was a huge point. Had he not lost the point, the fight would have been a draw and the title would have remained vacant.
Two judges had it for Martinez, 114-113, while the third had it for Beltran, 116-111.
The title was vacant because Adrien Broner was stripped of the belt after missing weight for a July 21 defense against Vicente Escobedo. Martinez and Beltran fought a worthy fight to fill it.
Now Martinez has won this title twice. Martinez, 29, first won it in 2009 in England by knocking out Nicky Cook in the fourth round and made two defenses.
His new reign began with what was a rock 'em-sock 'em fight from the outset. There was back-and-forth action throughout the fight, which was as close as could be. Martinez and Beltran, 23, both landed a ton of shots with both hands and were pounding each other throughout the bout.
Beltran hurt Martinez in the fourth round and again near the end of the fifth round, but Martinez did not wilt. Beltran also dealt with a cut over his left eye during the second half of the fight.
It was Beltran's second title shot. In December, a fight against titlist Juan Carlos Salgado ended in a second-round no-contest when Salgado was cut by an accidental head-butt and was unable to continue.
• Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) scored two knockdowns and stopped former junior middleweight titlist Joachim Alcine (33-3-1, 19 KOs) in the first round of an impressive performance.
Macklin was fighting for the first time since March, when he dropped Martinez in the seventh round of a lineal world title fight but was ultimately stopped in the 11th round.
Before that bout, Macklin lost a highly controversial decision to then-titlist Felix Sturm in Germany in June 2011. He is hoping this impressive performance catapults him back into a title fight of some kind.
Alcine offered very little. He went down from a clean right hand and was in trouble. Later in the round, Macklin clobbered him with a flurry and sent him down on a left hook.
Alcine was in big trouble but survived until referee Jay Nady intervened at 2 minutes, 36 seconds as Macklin was teeing off on him while Alcine was trapped in a neutral corner.
Alcine, who held a 154-pound world title from 2007 to 2008, had rejuvenated his career in December with an upset decision win against Montreal rival David Lemieux.
• Light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee (10-0, 6 KOs), the popular Notre Dame graduate and Subway restaurant pitchman, scored a shutout of Paul Harness (4-4-1, 3 KOs), 29, of Kansas City, Mo. Lee, 25, of Chicago, had no issues in rolling to a 40-36 decision on all three scorecards in the final bout before the pay-per-view telecast began.
• Junior middleweight Willie Nelson (19-1-1, 11 KOs) had a big second half of his fight to score a mild upset win against John Jackson (13-1, 12 KOs) in what was a fan-friendly shootout. Nelson, 25, of Cleveland, took the decision 96-94 on two scorecards, with the third judge scoring it surprisingly wide, 98-92. Jackson, 23, of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is the son of power-punching former world champion Julian Jackson. Top Rank's Bob Arum was in the process of signing him to a co-promotional deal with Sampson Lewkowicz and planned to put him on the Dec. 8 Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV HBO PPV undercard. That probably goes down the drain with the defeat.
• Junior middleweight Michael Medina (26-3-2, 19 KOs) of Mexico scored two knockdowns and rolled to a shutout eight-round decision against James Winchester (15-5, 5 KOs) of Ruffin, N.C.
Medina dropped Winchester with a solid right uppercut late in the second round. A wobbly Winchester beat the count and was fortunate the bell rang to end the round moments later. Winchester, who was cut over the left eye, hung in there before getting knocked down again with a right hand seconds before the fight ended. All three judges had it 80-72 for Medina.
• Nigerian welterweight Wale "Lucky Boy" Omotoso (23-0, 19 KOs), who trains in Hollywood, Calif., easily outpointed Daniel Sostre (11-7-1, 4 KOs) of Puerto Rico in an eight-round bout that opened the card. Omotoso did as he pleased, winning 80-72, 79-73, 79-73.