- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Junior featherweight titlist Rico Ramos' mandatory defense against interim titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux has been rescheduled for Jan. 20.
The bout will headline a tripleheader on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, promoter Dan Goossen said Thursday.
Ramos and Rigondeaux were originally scheduled to meet Saturday on a special New Year's Eve card on Showtime headlined by light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud against former titleholder Zsolt Erdei.
However, in early December, Showtime canceled the card. The reason was a combination of Erdei withdrawing because of a hand injury and the network deciding it was a mistake to spend money for a card on New Year's Eve, when ratings were likely to be poor.
So while Cloud remains unscheduled, Ramos and Rigondeaux will be moved back only three weeks from the most recent date it was planned for.
"It is nice to get it rescheduled," said Goossen, who promotes Ramos. "It certainly was one of the most challenging matches to finally get settled."
The match has been moved multiple times. Top Rank, Rigondeaux's promoter, won the right to promote the bout at a purse bid and planned to put the fight on a Dec. 17 "Top Rank Live" card in Thackerville, Okla. Then Top Rank decided to move it up and scheduled the bout on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II HBO PPV undercard on Dec. 3. But when Top Rank decided to place lightweight Brandon Rios on the pay-per-view it bumped the Ramos-Rigondeaux fight.
Ultimately, Top Rank, which would have defaulted on the purse bid, made a deal with Goossen to take over the promotional rights to the bout and he lined up the Dec. 31 date with Showtime and scheduled the card to take place in Anaheim, Calif.
Now, Goossen has the new date, although everybody involved accepted less money from Showtime to get the overdue fight done because the network switched the bout from the big-budget "Showtime Championship Boxing" series to the much lower budget "ShoBox."
Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs), 24, of Pico Rivera, Calif., will be making the first defense of his 122-pound belt, which he won in July. Ramos was way behind on the three scorecards when he rallied for a seventh-round highlight-reel knockout of Japan's Akifumi Shimoda in Atlantic City, N.J.
Miami's Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs), 31, does not have much professional experience, but he was one of the greatest amateur boxers in history, winning two Olympic gold medals for Cuba in 2000 and 2004 before defecting.
He outpointed Ricardo Cordoba to win the vacant interim belt in November 2010 on the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito undercard at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Rigondeaux has made one defense, a first-round blowout of Willie Casey in March in Casey's native Ireland.
"We've got an experienced professional in Ramos against an experienced amateur in Rigondeaux," Goossen said. "But I believe that the power and strength of Ramos will beat the great amateur pedigree of Rigondeaux."
Also on the televised portion of the card in scheduled eight-round bouts, middleweight prospect Brandon Gonzales (15-0, 10 KOs) faces Caleb Traux (18-0-1, 10 KOs) and junior bantamweights Matt Villanueva (6-0-1, 6 KOs) and Michael Ruiz Jr. (8-1-1, 3 KOs) square off.
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer. Follow him on Twitter.
5dMalik Smith, ESPN Stats & Information