Cuban great Guillermo Rigondeaux has been inspired by the exploits of his countrymen in the Tokyo Olympics and has vowed to tame WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero in their clash at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, on August 14.
A double Olympic gold medallist turned two-division pro champion, Rigondeaux has looked on with pride as three Cubans – Roniel Iglesias, Arlen Lopez and Julio Cesar La Cruz – have topped the podium in Tokyo, with Andy Cruz hoping to add to that tally against Keyshawn Davis on Sunday. The Cuban gold rush has rekindled memories of Rigondeaux’s own Olympic glory years and added more motivation to his push for further honours.
After preparing for three-division champion Casimero with coach Ronnie Shields at their training camp in Stafford, Texas, WBA Regular 118lbs champion Rigondeaux feels rejuvenated and primed to underline his greatness.
“It has been a very focused camp and I have found inspiration watching the Olympics, and it has lit a spark in me,” said Rigondeaux, now 40 but still in optimum fighting shape. “Winning two gold medals in my early years gives me added incentive to win this fight. I want to prove to the world that I am one of the best boxers ever and that I have a lot left to give in this sport.
“I am confident that I am going to do that against the most avoided fighter in my weight class. Casimero is a dangerous fighter and a very powerful puncher, but I’m going to tame him with great boxing skills.
“Training in Texas with Ronnie Shields has been great and our energy working together is fantastic. Ronnie has had a lot of world champions, and has a very professional boxing gym, with a lot of world champions and fighters who are competing at the highest level of the sport. I am motivated to work hard, not just to reach my own goals, but by all the young fighters in the gym who are driven and focused. The atmosphere has brought something new out of me. I’m revived and feeling young again.
“It always feels good fighting for a world title, and I have had the WBO title before after I beat Nonito Donaire, but this time I’m going up against a hungry young lion. I am looking to capture another world title, and give another great fight that fans will talk about for years.
“I feel good. I think at this point in my career, all the time away from the ring helps. I know how to fight and I know how to train, the big thing is knowing how to recover, and not damage my body. I am doing a good job at staying sharp in the gym, but not over training. A win against Casimero will do wonders for my career.”
Main image: Hosanna Rull/iRull Fotos.