RING junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux has been ordered to defend his WBO title against Chris Avalos, Rigondeaux’s manager, Gary Hyde confirmed to RingTV.com on Tuesday.
Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 knockouts), who also holds the WBA and WBO belts, was last in action for a first round knockout of Sod Kokietgym on a Top Rank Promotions card in Macao, China last month.
Although the respective camps have 30 days from last Friday to negotiate a deal before a purse bid is ordered, Hyde said the fighter still is being handled by Caribe Promotions although his fight with Kokietgym was his final bout under Top Rank.
Also promoted by Top Rank, Avalos (24-2, 18 KOs), 24, has won five consecutive fights, three by knockout, since falling by split decision to Jhonatan Romero in December 2011.
“We’re going to purse that fight,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arum of a bout whose minimum purse bid is $100,000. “I think that Avalos would give him a good fight.”
But after defeating Kokietgym, Rigondeaux, 33, called out WBC and IBF counterparts Leo Santa Cruz and Kiko Martinez, which are unification bouts Hyde said he would somehow attempt to make within the 30-day period of negotiations.
“At this point, we’re not interested in Avalos. We’re looking for different avenues. We’re looking at fighting world champions like Martinez and Santa Cruz,” said Hyde.
“We’ve got 30 days within which to do something and right now, we’re more interested in fighting Kiko Martinez or Leo Santa Cruz. I’m sure that for a unification, the WBO would be more than happy to accommodate us there.”
But WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel stood by his mandate when contacted by RingTV.com.
“Yesterday, I talked to Boris Arencibia, the president of Caribe Promotions, notifying him that we have ordered the negotiations,” said Valcarcel, adding that “the mandatory has been due for a long time.”
Asked if Rigondeaux would be stripped for not fighting Avalos, Valcarcel said, “I don’t want to say that but we’ve ordered the negotiations. If there is no deal, then we will proceed with the purse bid.”
Santa Cruz, in turn, responded to Rigondeaux, first on his Twitter account and then during an interview with RingTV.com.
“I think that I can bring a lot of pressure to him in a fight and that I will stay on top of him. All he’s ever waiting for is the opportunity to counter-punch. But I would stay right on top of him and go 100 percent to stay on top of him so that he wouldn’t know what to do,” said Santa Cruz, 24.
“He’s a really smart fighter and he’s really slick, so I would be happy winning a decision. It would be hard to catch him because he knows how to avoid punches. But I would stay on top of him and hopefully catch him with a good punch. Then, if the knockout comes, then it comes. But if we go the distance and win a decision, then I would be happy with that.”
A swiftly rising body-puncher, Santa Cruz defended the IBF 118-pound strap three times – twice by stoppage – before winning his 122-pound debut by fifth-round knockout over Alexander Munoz in May 2013, the latter’s first loss by stoppage after 40 pro bouts.
Santa Cruz then took another step up in competition by scoring two knockdowns on the way to dethroning Victor Terrazas for the WBC junior featherweight belt by third round stoppage last August.
Santa Cruz is now coming off consecutive unanimous decision victories over Cesar Seda in December and Cristian Mijares in March.
Meanwhile, Rigondeaux ended a 36-0-1 unbeaten streak for Kokietgym and was coming off back-to-back unanimous decisions over Nonito Donaire in April 2013 and Joseph Agbeko in December.
Rigondeaux won the RING and WBO titles in the Donaire fight and the WBA title against Ricardo Cordoba in late 2010, his seventh pro bout.
Rigondeaux-Santa Cruz is a fight Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya would love to make a reality.
Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank Promotions