<
>

Rigo fighting in Japan out of necessity

With no offers to fight on U.S. soil, Guillermo Rigondeaux defends his title in Japan on New Year's Eve. Chris Farina/Top Rank

Junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux fights on New Year's Eve in Osaka, Japan, but not out of a great desire to be in Asia or because he is going to be involved a big-time fight.

On the contrary. He would, of course, rather be closer to home (Miami) and fighting in a significant unification fight. He is fighting in Japan because it is where he can get work.

Nobody disputes Rigondeaux's superb technical ability. It's what earned him two Olympic gold medals for Cuba and a pair of professional title belts.

But because of his fan-unfriendly boxing style, Rigondeaux was -- to put it politely -- not asked back after recent HBO appearances, and Showtime has never shown any real interest.

So Rigondeaux will fight in Asia for the second consecutive fight, this time without any American television coverage, when he faces unknown Hisashi Amagasa on Wednesday at the Bodymaker Colosseum.

At least when Rigondeaux faced Sod Kokietgym in Macau in July, the bout wound up on same-day tape delay on Spanish-language network UniMas. But after that fight, promoter Top Rank, which has an exclusive output deal with UniMas, elected not to renew its deal with the 34-year-old Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KOs).

"This is my second time fighting in Asia this year," Rigondeaux said in translated comments. "I am very frustrated that the other world belt holders are running scared and won't fight me. It's disgraceful that we couldn't find a world-class, 122-pound fighter to fight me, so I would like to thank Amagasa for dropping down from featherweight to challenge me. I will put on an explosive fireworks display on New Year's Eve in Japan."

Although the 5-foot-10½ Amagasa (28-4-2, 19 KOs), 29, will have a 6½-inch height advantage over Rigondeaux, he has never faced anyone close to the caliber of the champion.

If all goes well for Rigondeaux, who will be making his sixth title defense, he could make it three fights in a row in Asia, according to manager Gary Hyde.

"We have already been offered a fight against another Japanese challenger in Japan this coming May," Hyde said. "Rigondeaux is in tremendous condition, as always, and we are very confident going into this fight on New Year's Eve that Rigo will put on a another stellar performance."

But there is also a chance he could be back fighting regularly in the United States, according to Hyde.

Over the summer, Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports had interest in signing Rigondeaux but nothing developed. Hyde, without mentioning a specific company, indicated that a previous offer was again possible.

"In January, we will sit down and discuss the terms of a promotional contract that was initially offered to us this past summer and is now back on the table," Hyde said. "Hopefully, we will come to an agreement with this promotional company and Rigo will be back fighting on mainstream television networks in 2015."