Fights in Five: Rigo opens up

Rigondeaux vs Ceja_06_23_2019_Fight_Andy Samuelson _ Premier Boxing Champions

The best of last week’s boxing action, in five minutes or less. (Yeah, kinda like Jimmy John’s.)

Guillermo Rigondeaux TKO8 Julio Ceja: What in the name of Harry Greb happened on Sunday to the little Cuban we love to hate? Rigondeaux, whose conventionally odious style once turned a seminal showdown with Nonito Donaire into a Kabuki play set to a Kenny G soundtrack, has long since scuttled any expectations he could become a bankable star. But against Ceja, Rigo, the 122-pound lineal champ, channeled his inner Chavez, stood cement-footed in the pocket and took (as well as gave) his lumps. Maybe he finally got the memo. More likely, at 38 he is – like the rest of us old farts – just tired. At any rate, Rigondeaux was able to trade with the game Ceja and have enough left over to ass-can him with a  straight left hand in the eighth. Referee Russell Mora officially finished off the Mexican with a dubious stoppage, and so it goes. But it’ll be interesting to see whether this new Rigo can draw out an opponent of note – and whether that same version of El Chacal shows up for the fight.

Jermell Charlo KO3 Jorge Cota: The bloodlusters routinely remind us how soft we’ve grown, how the sport was so much better back in the day – when men were men, fights went dozens of rounds and machetes were almost certainly involved. But because boxing is not Thunderdome, we’ve decided (rightly) that fighters deserve a certain amount of protection – from the vagaries of the sport, from their opponent, from even themselves. But not from Jay Nady. Poor Cota, a late replacement for injured titlist Tony Harrison, opened up in Round 3 and paid dearly for it on a short righthand counter from Charlo that dropped him to his seat. Woozy, Cota made it to his feet – but seemed able to stay on them only by steadying himself with a glove on the rope. Nady commanded Cota to come forward, ignored the fighter’s non-response and grabbed Cota’s wrist and threw him back into the fray. Somewhat predictably, Charlo immediately smashed Cota with a two-punch combination that sent him through the ropes and got Nady to his casting call as a sadistic Easter Island statue on time.

Andrew Cancio KO3 Alberto Machado: The service-station-attendant jokes write themselves around here, but if Cancio‘s day job at the gas company had been a laughing matter to some ahead of his February upset of Machado, everyone was taking the 30-year-old Californian seriously by Friday’s rematch. Cancio went to work from the jump, delivering bursts of combination punching and walking through what came back from Machado. By the third round, he was breaking through upstairs, then hooked a heavy left hand under Machado’s high guard, skewering his liver. The blow sent Machado to a knee for a count he wouldn’t beat, secured Cancio’s junior lightweight belt and likely ended a career in the utilities industry.

Elwin Soto KO12 Angel Acosta: In the parlance of our times, you hate to see it. Mexico’s Soto – 22, making his American debut and having been untested going into Friday’s junior flyweight title fight – pulled off a dramatic upset … that was marred by another outlandish officiating blunder. A nifty little action battle that saw Acosta hit the deck in the third and then crack his way back on the scorecards set up a dramatic late knockdown for Soto. In the early moments of the 12th round, a charging Acosta was clipped and staggered by a counter left hook – but remained standing, gloves up and in a crouched position. For reasons only he (and perhaps Russell Mora) can explain, referee Thomas Taylor made up his mind in that moment that Acosta was done. Soto swarmed, whiffed several times and – without landing a follow-up shot – walked away a titlist.

(Photo: Andy Samuelson / Premier Boxing Champions)

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