It looks like junior featherweight champ Guillermo Rigondeaux, coming off a decision win in a title unification bout against 2012 fighter of the year Nonito Donaire in April, finally has a date and opponent nailed down for his next fight.
If everything is finalized, Rigondeaux will be back to headline an HBO card Dec. 7 against former bantamweight titlist Joseph Agbeko, according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and the network. The site is not set, but probably will be in Atlantic City, N.J., at Boardwalk Hall’s smaller, upstairs facility.
Allsports had earlier reported that talks were ongoing to facilitate a fight between two of the most talented fighters in the division.
HBO was reluctant to put Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs), a two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist, back on after his less-than-entertaining performance against Donaire, but his talent is supreme and the network reconsidered its stance.
“I think it’s a good fight and HBO likes it because they think Agbeko will make Rigondeaux fight,” Arum said. “Agbeko is very confident he can beat Rigondeaux. I spoke to him at a recent press conference and that’s what he told me.”
At one point it looked like Rigondeaux’s date was going to be Nov. 16 as part of a split-site card with super middleweight champ Andre Ward’s fight with Edwin Rodriguez. However, manager Frank Espinoza, who recently signed Agbeko, said his fighter would not be available to fight in November because he had returned home to Ghana to take care of some personal business.
Things changed when the date for Rigondeaux’s fight was moved back a few weeks, allowing Agbeko (29-4, 22 KOs), who is moving up in weight, to accept the fight.
The co-feature is expected to be a middleweight fight between former three-time world title challenger Matthew Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs) and junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson (21-1-1, 12 KOs), who would move up in weight. HBO owes Macklin a fight as part of his deal for what turned out to be a third-round knockout loss to middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin in June.
“That’s what I was told. I don’t have it in writing yet but that’s what HBO told me,” promoter Lou DiBella said of the date for the fight, which was also under consideration for the Nov. 16 Ward-Rodriguez undercard.