Despite a myriad of controversy, the super bantamweight championship bout between titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux and Robert Marroquin will take place as planned on Saturday night.
The fight had been pulled from the undercard of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez main event as recently as Sept. 6 (per ESPN's Dan Rafael). However, it was re-added Tuesday after some legal jostling allowed Rigondeaux and management reached a settlement (per ESPN's Dan Rafael).
A 31-year-old Olympic gold medalist in 2000 and 2004, Rigondeaux did not make his professional debut until May 2009 after a defection his native Cuba. The southpaw is undefeated in his 10 fights since leaving his homeland, and comes in as the prohibitive favorite for Saturday night.
At just 23 years old, Marroquin is a prospect getting his first chance at championship glory. Expect him to come out and make title retention more difficult than expected for Rigondeaux.
With that in mind, here's everything you need to know about the super bantamweight fight.
Where: Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 9:00 p.m. ET
Watch: HBO Pay-Per-View ($49.95)
Live Stream: VOD inDemand ($49.95)
Tale of the Tape
|Guillermo Rigondeaux||Robert Marroquin|
|10-0-0 (8 KO)||Record||21-1-0 (14 KO)|
| 65" ||Reach|| 72"
Rigondeaux's Keys to Victory
Do not take Marroquin lightly. Stay disciplined.
Truth be told, fighting Marroquin was not the high-profile match that the Cuban star wanted.
Rigondeaux's skill as a fighter has largely gone under-the-radar because most of his fights have come against second-tier fighters. And fellow high-ranked fighters like Nonito Donaire are seemingly unwilling to take on the Cuban star until his profile rises, so he'll need to make his fights more appealing going forward.
With that in mind, it's possible that Rigondeaux comes out overly aggressive and opens up some easy strikes for Marroquin. In addition, a week ago Rigondeaux thought he would be sitting at home Saturday night instead of fighting. Those starts and stops had to affect his preparation and conditioning.
The southpaw is the superior fighter by a pretty large margin. Instead of coming out and trying to make a big splash, Rigondeaux needs to simply continue his dominant standard while sticking to a disciplined attack.
If he does that, the 31-year-old will cruise to victory.
Marroquin's Keys to Victory
Extend the fight. Take advantage of every mistake.
The young American cannot win this contest in its first six rounds. If these two fighters start going blow-for-blow, Rigondeaux will simply overpower Marroquin and come away with an easy victory.
Instead, Marroquin will have to come out with a relatively conservative approach and try to wear his opponent down over the course of the fight. That strategy will likely result in an early hole on the scorecards, but that's to be expected.
If the pre-fight jostling does cause fatigue for Rigondeaux as the fight progresses, the Dallas native should have plenty of opportunities for big counter punches.
All it takes is one of those late-round punches to land squarely for Marroquin to come away with an upset victory.
What They're Saying
In his preview of the fight, Boxing Insider's William Holmes shed light on Rigondeaux's pure dominance as since becoming a professional.
He’s a southpaw in his early thirties, and he has incredibly quick reflexes and surprising power. He’s made experienced boxers look foolish. He went to Willie Casey’s backyard and schooled him in one round. He knocked out previous champion Rico Ramos in the sixth round and barely broke a sweat. He defeated Philadelphia native Teon Kennedy by a 5th round TKO and knocked him down five times.
Even though Marroquin has over twice as many professional fights as Rigondeaux, none of his wins are quite as impressive. That history (albeit short) of embarrassing better opponents is one of the reasons the Cuban is considered a favorite.
Which fighter will win?
Both fighters are supremely skilled guys who could have bright futures. Regardless, Rigondeaux is simply on a higher level at this point in his career.
Expect the Cuban to come out with a succession of power punches that inhibit Marroquin early and inhibit the 23-year-old's ability to take this fight the distance.
Rigondeaux will win by either TKO or knockout, and I'm going with the former.
Rigondeaux wins by sixth-round TKO.