CORKMAN Gary Hyde has signed a new deal that will kick-start the stalled professional career of two-time Olympic champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, considered by many to be the best amateur in boxing history.
Rigondeaux won Olympic gold in 2000 in Sydney and 2004 in Athens and was a seven-time Cuban national champion. He defected in early 2009.
He is unbeaten in a brief professional career that has been disrupted by a legal wrangle over managerial and promotional contracts. That has been resolved now and his future plans have been underpinned by a new three- year deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank.
“We finally got it finished,” Arum told ESPN.com. “It had gotten bogged down over some details, but finally everybody has signed off on it.”
“No more legal problems over this right or that right. Thank God this problem has been resolved and now we can take Rigo — who is ranked at No 7 — to a world title,” Hyde said.
Rigondeaux’s first bout under the new deal is a scheduled eight-rounder against an opponent to be named on August 21 in Tijuana, Mexico.
As well as a new promotional team, Rigondeaux will also have a new trainer. After working briefly with Freddie Roach and Alejandro ‘Pupi’ Torre, the 29-year-old Cuban will move from Miami to Houston where he will train under Ronnie Shields.
Top Rank is heavily involved in the featherweight division, promoting titleholders Juan Manuel Lopez, Yuriorkis Gamboa, another Cuban Olympic gold medallist, and Orlando Salido. Rigo’s future lies at featherweight.
“The kid was the greatest amateur fighter ever and fits in with all these great featherweights,” Arum said.
“A guy like that could fight for a title by his 10th fight. In less than a year, he could be in a big event. I saw him in the gym and he’s one of these terrific-trained Cuban fighters, well-schooled, and he technically is better than Gamboa. I don’t know if he punches as hard, but he’s a marvellous prospect. He’s certainly a lot better than a lot of our American kids.”
Hyde was the first to sign Rigondeaux, but he and promoter Luis DeCubas got involved in a power struggle after the fighter later signed with another manager Tony Gonzalez. Once a judge upheld Hyde’s managerial contract he immediately set about finding a suitable promoter.
After a couple of months of discussion, Hyde, DeCubas and Top Rank worked out the deal in which Top Rank will become Rigondeaux’s promoter and DeCubas will still retain a financial interest.
“One of the attractive things is that he can fight from 118 pounds to 122 and can easily move up to 126, which opens up tons of potential fights. He just fits in,” Carl Moretti said.
“So we’re bringing in a guy who the TV networks like, who clearly can fight and doesn’t need a lot of development. One or two fights and you put him into the mix and see where it shakes out.”
Shields has worked with Pernell Whitaker and Mike Tyson in the past and already has a Cuban , middleweight Erislandy Lara, in his gym.
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