Photos, Lina Baker IG @seeyouringside
When Miguel Cotto faces Saul Canelo Alvarez this Saturday at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, another chapter of the Mexico vs Puerto Rico rivalry will be closed. The undercard will be a turning point for the futures of young champions and highly avoided assassins.
Recently added to the card, a bout featuring the return of “El Chacal” Guillermo Rigondeaux 15-0 10KO’s after being out of action for eleven months against Philipino Drian Francisco 28-3-1 22KO’s. Rigondeaux is possibly the most avoided fighter since Winky Wright in his prime; with a masterful presence in the ring, superior timing and footwork; Rigondeaux has effectively made himself un-fightable.
That changes this weekend, with the new backing of Roc-Nation Sports and a co-promotional agreement with long time promoter Caribe Promotions Rigondeaux finally has some muscle behind him to change the narrative that fighters including Leo Santa Cruz have used to avoid having to face the Cuban in the ring. “Rigondeaux doesn’t bring any money to the table” to which Rigondeaux said “Those fighters should be ballet dancers because they obviously don’t want to fight.” “To the rest of the super bantamweights out there with belts, beware because I am coming for them. I’m coming for all the belts and I’m going to destroy them all.”
With such a high profile fight against an opponent that could possibly make Rigondeaux look impressive. Roc Nation can look to include Rigondeaux in its future plans when creating cards around their centerpiece Andre Ward to build the Cuban fighter similar to the highly successful Golovkin-Gonzalez pairing.
Despite being labeled as boring or un-watchable Rigondeaux is actually coming off of a very interesting fight against unheralded Hisashi Amagasa in which he was dropped twice en-route to stopping Amagasa in the eleventh round.
Takashi Miura 29-2-2 22KO’s takes on Francisco “Bandido” Vargas 22-0-1 16KO’s in the co-main event for the WBC lightweight championship. Miura is coming off a third round knockout of faded former titleholder Billy Dib to stake his claim in the states, a challenge that Japanese fighters have begun warming up to recently. For years the trip overseas to the states wasn’t worth the risk for Japanese fighters but now with greater exposure and higher purses we’ve seen the Kameda’s make the move to the states and now Miura.
Vargas is coming off a destruction of Australian Will Tomlinson and had dismantled the once great Juan Manuel Lopez in a devastating knockout earlier in 2014. GoldenBoy clearly has designs for Vargas as they pushed him into the co-main event slot following the cancellation of previous co-main event fighter Andre Ward’s bout. Pushing Vargas into the co-main slot over IBF Bantamweight champion Randy Caballero shows they have high hopes for the rugged Mexican.
Ronny Rios 24-1 10KO’s returns to the ring a year removed from the first defeat of his career to face undefeated Puerto Rican Jayson Velez 23-0-1 16KO’s. Rios bounced back after the first loss of his career to win a unanimous decision over journeyman Sergio Frias back in March, while Velez topped Daniel Ramirez in a unanimous decision victory in June following a tough fight against Russian Evgeny Gradovich last November.
In a true crossroads fight, Rios and Velez have their work cut out for them as both have looked exceptionally focused in camp. Velez said “I’m ready to be a world champion, I’m ready to fight Ronny. He’s a top fighter but I will beat him.” Rios said “It means a lot to me that my fans have stood by me. Last year was a very hard year for us so that means a lot”.
In the headlining bout of the free preliminary matches to be streamed via HBO’s YouTube page and other digital formats, IBF Bantamweight Champion Randy “El Matador” Caballero 22-0 13KO’s takes on the IBF Interim titlist from the UK, Lee Haskins 32-3 14KO’s.
Haskins won the interim title when Caballero suffered an injury to his heel that sidelined him for a year with a sixth round stoppage of previously undefeated Ryosuke Iwasa. Of the opportunity to fight in the states Haskins said “Fighting in Las Vegas, fighting in a fight of this magnitude, I never thought in my dreams I’d be on an undercard like this, that’s what’s giving me the extra push.”
Caballero has been itching to get back in the ring and has been seen training in a wheel chair at the Lee Espinoza Boxing Club in Coachella, CA. “After winning my title and not being able to defend has just made me want to fight so much more, my fans have been great and I promise I’m going to put on a good show.”
Miguel Cotto vs Saul “Canelo” Alvarez airs live on HBO Pay Per View Saturday November 21st at 6PM PST.