Rigondeaux to defend titles in Macau
Although Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is promoting a boxing card in Macau on Saturday headlined by the Simpiwe Vetyeka-Nonito Donaire featherweight world title fight, he is already making plans for his next show in China.
Unified junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux will defend his 122-pound world titles on the July 19 card against Sod Kokietgym at the Venetian Macao's Cotai Arena in Macau, Arum told ESPN.com.
The 33-year-old Rigondeaux (13-0, 8 KOs), a two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist who defected and now lives in Miami, will face fellow southpaw Kokietgym (63-2-1, 28 KOs), 36, of Thailand, Arum said.
The card, which Arum, has dubbed "Gold Rush," will be headlined by flyweight Zou Shiming (4-0, 1 KO), 33, the two-time Chinese Olympic gold medalist who is a major star in China and the driving force behind Arum's push into the Chinese market. All of Zou's fights have been in Macau.
Arum said that Zou will face an opponent to be determined in his first scheduled 10-round bout, in what is supposed to be his final fight before challenging for a world title in the fall. Southpaw super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez (28-0, 22 KOs), a 22-year-old rising Mexican prospect, also will be on the card against an opponent that has yet to be determined. Arum said that the Zou and Ramirez bouts will be televised in the United States on a few hours' tape delay on HBO2, the same setup Arum has had with the network for his other Macau cards, other than when Manny Pacquiao fought Brandon Rios there in November on pay-per-view.
Rigondeaux unified two titles in April 2013, winning a unanimous decision against 2012 fighter of the year Donaire, and then defended the belts in December with a shutout decision against former bantamweight titlist Joseph Agbeko.
However, neither fight was very entertaining, prompting HBO, which televised both bouts -- and Arum had to cajole the network into buying the Agbeko bout -- to decline to show future Rigondeaux fights. So Arum said that Rigondeaux-Kokietgym would air on same-day tape delay on UniMas' "Solo Boxeo Tecate" series, the Spanish-language boxing show that Top Rank has an exclusive deal to provide fights for.
The bout also is the final fight on Rigondeaux's three-fight promotional contract with Top Rank.
"This fight is the end of the contract. We owe him this fight and we will live up to the contract and then it's over," Arum said. "We're happy to make a new deal with him if he wants to renegotiate (his minimum purses). But HBO won't put him on, so the only market I have for him is in Asia.
"If he makes a big hit when he fights (in Macau) then we have to work out the money, and if we can't, we can't. If he feels there's a market for him across the street (at Showtime), let him go across the street."
Kokietgym's only two defeats came in junior featherweight world title fights against Mexico's Daniel Ponce De Leon, who outpointed him in 2005 and then knocked him out in the first round of their 2006 rematch. Those two fights were both in the United States, Kokietgym's only fights outside of Thailand. The fight with Rigondeaux will be his third.
Also slated to be on the card are former flyweight and junior flyweight titlist Brian Viloria (33-4, 19 KOs), 33, of Hawaii, and light heavyweight Egor Mekhontsev (3-0, 3 KOs) against an opponent to be determined. Mekhontsev, a 29-year-old Russian southpaw, won an Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Games.
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