The final bout of 2014 took place in Osaka a few hours ago when Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (15-0, 10) successfully defended his WBO and WBA "super" Super Bantamweight titles in what may go down as being one of his most memorable, exciting and interesting bouts. In fact it was a bout that may have seen Rigondeaux retain his titles but suddenly look beatable, fallible and flawed with serious question marks arising about his durability.
The bout was a supposed mismatch as the talented Cuban battled against unheralded Japanese fighter Hisashi Amagasa (28-5-2, 19). Rigondeaux was a 1/100 favourite. On paper it was a show case bout for the Cuban against an opponent who was bigger than him but open, an opponent that really was expected to be made for him to counter, break up and use as a human punch bag. Instead what we ended up with was an entertaining, though relatively 1-sided, affair that had drama in the middle of it and really grotesque and nasty damage done to the challenger.
Early on Amagasa looked hungry and he effectively ran over to Rigondeaux, swung his shots and fought as if he felt he would need to stop Rigondeaux early to have any chance. It was an entertaining start by the challenger, who seemed to have more intent than the last 2 challengers of Rigondeaux's. Sadly for Amagasa it wasn't long before Rigondeaux turned the tables and started making the challenger look clumsy whilst picking him off with his speed and accuracy. The way the Cuban turned the bout around was beautiful in some ways though unfortunately he managed to take what was beautiful and make it dull as he began circling around the ring and using his feet to avoid a fight whilst continuing to pick the Japanese fighter.
Whilst Rigondeaux was too fast his style was frustrating to watch, thankfully Amagasa did occasionally get into range and have success. those moments were few and far between but made it obvious that the challenger wasn't just there to be a showcase foe, he was there to win.
Late in round 7 we had a huge momentum shift as Rigondeaux was caught by a counter right hand from the Japanese fighter and dropped. It was a shock considering how much Amagasa had struggled to land anything clean and it seemed to even shock Amagasa who ran over to the corner to celebrate, unfortunately however Rigondeaux was quickly back to his feet. A follow up attack saw Rigondeaux being bundled down and the referee ruling it a knockdown, Rigondeaux was still groggy but it was far from a legitimate knockdown, it did however result in a 10-7 round.
Amagasa trying to build on his success in round 8 but sadly Rigondeaux managed to recover his sense and by the end of the round the Cuban was back in charge. In round 9 Rigondeaux further reestablished himself as he scored a knockdown of his own and from then on it seemed he was in complete control whilst Amagasa's face began to swell quickly, breaking up after every puncher of Rigondeaux's. Sadly the swelling become more and more grotesque and by the end of round 11 he looked like a extra from a horror movie with what appeared to be a broken cheekbone, a broken jaw and a broken orbital bone. Rightfully he stayed in the corner and accepted defeat rather than have his already broken face further damaged.
We hope we get to see Amagasa back in the ring next year, but the damage done here may well leave him on the shelf for a very long time and even if he returns the chances are he will never be the same. He can take heart from his effort, which was great, but that effort almost certainly cost him long term. Despite the loss we want to thank Amagasa for putting up an amazing effort full of courage even in the most serious of adversity, we're sure he made some new fans with this performance.
Sometimes the most significant fight on a show isn't actually the "main event" and that was the case today in Macau as Zou Shiming headlined the card with his fight against Luis Dela Rosa whilst the most significant bout was the Super Bantamweight title fight between Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9) and Thailand's Sod Kokietgym (63-3-1, 28).
The bout, widely viewed as a mismatch of giant proportions, went the way many expected with Rigondeaux retaining his title though there was certainly an air of controversy surrounding the ending of the contest.
After 80 seconds of the fight starting there was a major headclash which saw Sod dropping to the canvas hard. It was a clear headclash and a hard one even though Sod wasn't left bloodied he was certainly groggy. Sadly the referee failed to give Sod reasonable time to recover from the accidental foul.
Moments after being told to continue Sod went to touch gloves though was caught by a hard left that sent him down hard. He was up at 9 though still groggy, a combination of both the stunning left hand and the head clash, and the referee waved off the bout immediately much to the anger of Sod who felt he had been sucker punched.
Whilst few will make a fuss about the ending, and in fact many will suggest that Sod should have "defended himself at all times", it still won't have done Rigondeaux any favours despite the result being very impressive. It was, as we suggested, a lose-lose situation for Rigondeaux especially if you, like Sod, feel Rigondeaux delivered a sucker punch.
Whilst some fans will have loved the "nasty side" of Rigondeaux others will have questioned the need for the shot that finished off Sod. Some will certainly suggest that Rigondeaux deprived us of a fight, though it was a fight that many didn't want to see anyway and we dare say some people just want to complain.
(Image courtesy of Top Rank)
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.