A slick Cuban boxer who has been successful both as an amateur and a professional, Guillermo Rigondeaux is a truly impressive talent. Boxing analysts and trainers consider his amateur career among the greatest of all time, as he compiled an incredible record of 463 wins with only 12 losses. Born on September 30, 1980, Rigondeaux stormed onto the international scene in 2000, winning the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics as a bantamweight.
The next six years of his amateur career included a huge collection of gold medals. He won the Cuban national championships every year from 2000 to 2006, and he took gold at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, along with the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartagena. He won gold medals at the World Amateur Boxing Championships twice, at the 2001 event in Belfast and the 2005 event in Mianyang. He added gold medals from the Boxing World Cup in 2002 at Astana, 2005 at Moscow and 2006 at Baku, and he added another Olympic gold medal to his collection with a 2004 victory in Athens.
Guillermo Rigondeaux twice defected from Cuba, once in 2007 and then again in 2009. After defecting in 2009, he decided to turn professional. He had to leave behind his wife, son and stepson in Cuba.
He had his first professional fight against Juan Noriega, earning a third-round TKO victory in a contest he controlled from the opening bell. Two more early TKOs followed against Robert Guillen and Giovanni Andrade, with the latter victory earning him the WBA-NABA super bantamweight title. After running his record to 6-0, he earned himself a shot at the vacant WBA interim super bantamweight title.
Although his title fight against Ricardo Cordoba was a split decision, most observers felt that Rigondeaux won it decisively. He was more aggressive going forward, as he followed that fight up by stopping Willie Casey in the very first round, and then got a shot at the full WBA super bantamweight title against Rico Ramos. He dominated Ramos from the beginning, knocking him down multiple times and scoring a sixth-round KO.
After two defenses, he fought Nonito Donaire in a unification bout, as Donaire had the WBO, The Ring and lineal super bantamweight titles. Since Donaire was ranked number five on the pound-for-pound lists at the time, it was seen as Rigondeaux’s most difficult fight yet. He ended up winning by unanimous decisions, with the scorecards reading 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111. He did get knocked down in the 10th round, but most observers and analysts felt that he had actually won by a much wider margin, as he landed quite a few hard shots and controlled the majority of the contest.
He defended his titles multiple times after the Donaire fight, and added another belt to his collection when he defeated Drian Francisco by unanimous decision. That victory earned him the WBC Silver International super bantamweight title. He followed that up by going to Wales and stopping Jazza Dickens in just two rounds for another successful title defense.