Is Rejecting Guillermo Rigondeaux HBO's Latest Blunder in Battle vs. Showtime?

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Is Rejecting Guillermo Rigondeaux HBO's Latest Blunder in Battle vs. Showtime?
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Hey HBO: JOIN THE RIGOLUTION!

According to promoter Bob Arum, the Rigolution will not be televised after all.

According to the Bobfather, Top Rank’s chief television partner, HBO, has seen enough of undefeated and perhaps unparalleled pugilist Guillermo Rigondeaux—at least for the time being.

Last week, Arum told ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael he had a slew good fights on the television giant’s upcoming schedule, none of which involve the man who absolutely dissected the 2012 BWAA Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire last April in New York, in just his 12th professional fight.

From Rafael:

Although Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) defeated Donaire, Arum said HBO has shown no interest in his next fight. "Every time I mention him, they throw up," Arum said. Rigondeaux, while immensely talented does not make for exciting fights.

"So I have to figure out who I could put him in with," said Arum, adding that he didn't think it was right that HBO pushed for him to match Donaire with Rigondeaux and now has turned its back on the winner.

According to the same report, HBO will instead feature a parade of established retreads, including Miguel Cotto, Vic Darchinyan and (you guessed it) Nonito Donaire, as well as up-and-coming Top Rank prospects like Chinese flyweight Zou Shiming and American heavyweight Andy Ruiz. 

Huh?

Nothing against any of those guys, but is there really no place on HBO’s schedule for a fighter with perhaps more potential than any other man in the sport?

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Rigo was too good for Donaire, a P4P ranked superstar.

Even with chief rival Showtime stealing away Golden Boy Promotions’ impressive stable of talent? Even with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. jumping ship, too? Even with Showtime Sports and head honcho Stephen Espinoza increasingly gaining ground on what was once the clear destination for boxing on American cable television?

Things are getting silly over at HBO, and it’s happening fast.

Truthfully, it might even be Arum’s fault to begin with. After Rigondeaux’s brilliant exhibition against Donaire earlier this year, the man who is supposed to be selling us the fighter did exactly the opposite. According to Yahoo! Sports columnist Kevin Iole:

I'm 81 years old and I'm probably going to have to do the best promoting job I've ever done…It was not a very engaging fight. …When Rigondeaux stands and fights, the [expletive] has a lot of power and a lot of skill, but running the way he does really makes it not a watchable fight.

Um, what?

Look, Arum is no dummy. Maybe he was in negotiations with Rigo’s manager Gary Hyde on an extension of services and wanted to get the best deal possible. That makes business sense, and Bob Arum knows business.

Or maybe he was just upset Rigo had just decimated his new Filipino cash cow Nonito Donaire so soon after watching his previous money man Manny Pacquiao get starched by Juan Manuel Marquez in December.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Rigondeaux may have won the battle against Donaire, but he's losing the war for TV dates.

Or maybe he was just cranky that day.

Whatever the reason, some of boxing’s media bigwigs at ringside that night took note and shared the very same sentiment to the masses at large.

“Guillermo Rigondeaux was a loser even on the night he scored the most significant victory of his professional career,” opined Iole.

 

Dan Rafael added:

Rigondeaux is extremely talented, but his defensive style won't make him a star. The electricity that ran through the arena for most of the night and in the first few rounds of the main event turned stale and quiet as the fight wore on, with Rigondeaux -- a southpaw -- boxing, moving and spending long chunks of the fight going backward.

Yet the sport is called boxing, gentlemen, and there may be no better person on the planet at it that Guillermo Rigondeaux. He’s precisely everything that boxing fans and media should celebrate, or at least very close to it.

One of the greatest amateur boxers in the history of the sport, Rigondeaux braved rough seas to try his hand at boxing in a country that would pay him for his tremendous talent.

He’s fast, hits with power and is as technically sound as any student of the sweet science could hope. And to make things interesting, he’s chinny enough to get put on the canvas as was the case in the 10th round against Donaire.

But Rigondeaux rose to the occasion.

So, too, will the appropriately named Cult of Rigo (tabbed first by BoxingScene's Cliff Rold) continue to rise: the rabid group of fight aficionados and boxing purists who follow the Rigolution with a keen eye and heart for history. And ironically, the movement might be led by one of HBO’s very own ringside commentators.

Speaking to broadcast partner Jim Lampley on HBO’s The Fight Game television program (h/t Sharon Scrima of Boxing 101), Max Kellerman laid out the mantra:

The people I grew up watching fights with, all of us right now are compelled to watch Rigondeaux whenever he fights because he's the best in the world at what he does. He just shut out a dominant, three-division champion.

It’ll truly be a shame, then, if it’s HBO’s blunder that keeps Max and friends from watching.

And us, too.

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