Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Sod Kokietgym: Preview, Prediction for Title Fight

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2014

Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Sod Kokietgym: Preview, Prediction for Title Fight

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Saturday in Macau, China, Cuban star Guillermo Rigondeaux defends his WBO and WBA super bantamweight belts against Sod Kokietgym of Thailand. If you have never heard of Kokietgym, don't be alarmed. There is very little reason you should have. 

    Top Rank's primary objective for this card is to continue building Chinese Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming as a professional star. To me, it seems like a shame to waste a fighter of Rigondeaux's caliber in a role like this against an opponent who doesn't belong in the same ring with him. 

    But at least it's nice to see Rigo back in action. 

Tale of the Tape

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
    Per Boxrec     Guillermo Rigondeaux    Sod Kokietgym
    Record:     13-0, 8 KOs     63-2-1, 28 KOs
    Height:     5'4.5"     Unlisted
    Reach:     66"     Unlisted
    Weight:     122 lbs     122 lbs
    Age:     33     37      
    Stance:     Southpaw     Southpaw
    Hometown:     Miami, Florida     Petchaboon, Thailand
    Rounds:     83     411

    Sod Kokietgym's record looks pretty gaudy, but it was accumulated entirely against obscure club-level fighters and inexperienced prospects. His last two wins were six-round decisions over opponents with a combined record of 0-1. 

    Guillermo Rigondeaux has more than 50 fewer professional fights than Kokietgym, but the Cuban native's quality of opposition is light-years beyond what the Thai has seen. 

Main Storylines

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    Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

    In my opinion, the main storyline for this fight should be "Why do HBO and Top Rank have so much trouble promoting a brilliant boxer like Guillermo Rigondeaux?"

    The two-time Olympic gold medalist is arguably the best amateur of all time. Since turning professional he's been on a fast track to the top. In April 2013 he gave a boxing lesson to Nonito Donaire, who was then ranked in almost everybody's pound-for-pound top five.  

    I understand that quality opponents for Rigondeaux are not exactly abundant. But Sod Kokietgym? Boxrec has the guy ranked No. 63 at super bantamweight.

    He's fought 16 times since 2010 against opponents with a combined record of 150-129-17. 

    Kokietgym was a relatively late replacement for Jonathan Guzman. Guzman probably wasn't anywhere near ready for Rigondeaux, but he was at least an undefeated prospect who had won all 16 of his fights by stoppage.

    Kokietgym hasn't been relevant on the world scene in nearly a decade. His only two fights at the world-class level were against Daniel Ponce De Leon in 2005 and 2006.

    He lost the first one by decision in a closely fought war. He lost the rematch by Round 1 KO. 

Strengths

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    Guillermo Rigondeaux is an exceptional boxer with solid punching power. He is a brilliant ring general who controls distance and range masterfully. He is extremely difficult to hit and uses movement adeptly, continually resetting and attacking. 

    Sod Kokietgym has maintained a very active schedule throughout the years and has put in a lot of rounds at the professional level. He is comfortable in the pocket, catching punches and returning fire. 

Weaknesses

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Guillermo Rigondeaux is a defensive-minded fighter, and that can sometimes cost a boxer rounds, as modern judges increasingly favor aggression and don't even take into account whether or not the aggression is effective. A low punch output is risky.

    Then again, Rigo was more than active enough to easily beat Nonito Donaire, one of the top offensive fighters of his generation. 

    Sod Kokietgym doesn't appear to have a lot of defensive ability and uses relatively little movement. He's a come-forward fighter without dangerous power or tremendous physical strength. 

Guillermo Rigondeaux Will Win If...

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Guillermo Rigondeaux should be able to win this fight the same way he's won his last 13 fights, by controlling the range and hammering Sod Kokietgym from a dizzying variety of angles. He should have little problem using movement to set traps and walk Kokietgym into blistering left hands all fight long. 

    Rigondeaux needs to keep Kokietgym perpetually turning and resetting, making it impossible for him to establish any offense at all. He should use his speed to get off first with jolting straight jab-cross combinations. 

    After he's roughed Kokietgym up over the first few rounds, he should step up his aggression and finish him. There's no excuse for Rigondeaux failing to win this one by stoppage. 

Sod Kokietgym Will Win If...

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    I actually don't think there's any possible way Sod Kokietgym can beat Guillermo Rigondeaux. So rather than explain how he might do it, I'll address one of the most annoying boxing cliches: "Everybody has a puncher's chance."

    "Everybody" most certainly does not have a puncher's chance, no matter who they are fighting. To have a puncher's chance to win a fight, a boxer needs to have at least enough skill to get into range and deliver that punch. Beyond that, the boxer in question needs to have enough power for that punch to be a fight-ending blow.

    Kokietgym doesn't have the skill to get into range to land a big punch on Rigondeaux. With a KO percentage below 50 percent, accumulated against mostly low-level competition, it's hard to believe he has the power to stop Rigo, either.  

    If Rigondeaux waits until the morning of the fight to fly across the world and enters the ring suffering from horrible jet lag, and he gets slipped a sedative just prior to entering the ring, then maybe Kokietgym has a puncher's chance. 

    Realistically, he has no chance at all. 

Prediction

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    If Sod Kokietgym beats Guillermo Rigondeaux, I'll consider it the biggest boxing upset of my lifetime. Heck, it might be the biggest upset of all time. 

    So the only real prediction here is how Rigo will win. He needs to knock Kokietgym out in order to start climbing out of the promotional abyss he's fallen into. 

    Hopefully, Rigo will show the same aggression he displayed against Teon Kennedy and Rico Ramos in 2012. So I'm predicting that he'll stop Kokietgym inside of six rounds. 

    Rigondeaux should be able to face a more worthy opponent in his next fight. The winner of Carl Frampton vs. Kiko Martinez would be a good candidate, though it would have to wait until early next year. 

    And now that Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya appear to be back on decent terms, there might be a chance for Rigondeaux to meet fellow undefeated super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz.