Former unified junior featherweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux's fight against James "Jazza" Dickens, scheduled for Saturday at Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, is off because of Rigondeaux's problems obtaining a visa.
Rigondeaux had been training in Grozny, Russia, and twice traveled to Moscow with trainer Pedro Diaz to get their visas, but they came away empty-handed each time and flew back to Miami on Tuesday, Roc Nation Sports, Rigondeaux's promoter, told ESPN.com.
The fight was supposed to take place on a card put on by Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions and headlined by lightweight world titleholder Terry Flanagan's defense against British countryman Derry Mathews.
Rigondeaux, a two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist who defected and lives in Miami, had traveled to Russia with Diaz, who was there because he was also getting Ruslan Chagaev ready for a secondary title defense against Lucas Browne this past Saturday.
On Feb. 29, according to Roc Nation Sports, Rigondeaux and Diaz flew from Grozny to Moscow to go to the British consulate in attempt to get their visas, which were being processed but not finalized.
Rigondeaux and Diaz then returned to Grozny, where Rigondeaux continued to train. On Sunday, the day after Browne knocked out Chagaev in the 10th round, Rigondeaux and Diaz returned to Moscow to again try to get the visas. They waited for a few hours and then for unexplained reasons left and eventually flew back to Miami.
Warren said that he took care of responsibilities on his end and that he continued to work closely with Dino Duva of Roc Nation Sports in an effort to get the visa squared away.
Warren said Roc Nation Sports was "made aware very early in the negotiation process" that Rigondeaux would need an entry visa to travel to England but would not need a work permit "due to his international sporting status and this being a singular international event."
"Accordingly, QP issued the necessary supporting documentation for his application and accordingly, the visa was correctly applied for by Team Rigondeaux," Warren said. "We were told that it could take five clear working days for the visa to be issued so Rigondeaux could travel, but the problem was, or so we were told, that due to a public holiday in Russia on (Tuesday) the application center would be closed and he may not be able to collect his visa until Wednesday."
Warren and Roc Nation Sports said that they did no know why Rigondeaux flew to Miami on Tuesday.
"We have yet to establish how and why he flew to the USA and further, how he managed to fly anywhere when the normal practice is, when applying for a visa, that you hand your passport in and get it back when the visa is issued," Warren said. "Strangely, Rigondeaux left Moscow at a time when both the (visa) application centre and consulate were still closed. He has yet to explain to RNS, who are as much in the dark as QP, as to how and why he has arrived in the USA and why he was in possession of his passport which should, as is standard protocol, have been presented to the visa application center.
"We are all extremely disappointed by the whole situation as Rigondeaux will not appear this Saturday and Dickens will not get the chance, that he has trained so hard for, to fight the world's best (junior featherweight) in front of his own fans."
Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KOs), a 35-year-old southpaw, was stripped of his two 122-pound world titles late last year because of inactivity. Unwanted by American television networks because of his extremely technical style, he was headed to England to fight Dickens (21-1, 6 KOs), 24, in Dickens' hometown while also attempting to drum up interest in a possible bout with titleholder Carl Frampton, of Northern Ireland, who outpointed England's Scott Quigg to unify belts on Feb.27.