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RING Ratings update: Guillermo Rigondeaux stripped

09
Feb
Guillermo Rigondeaux (R) fighting then-RING jr. featherweight champion Nonito Donaire in April 2013 -- the last time he faced an opponent rated in THE RING's Top 5. Photo by Naoki Fukuda.

Guillermo Rigondeaux (R) fighting then-RING jr. featherweight champion Nonito Donaire in April 2013 — the last time he faced an opponent rated in THE RING’s Top 5. Photo by Naoki Fukuda.

This was a tough one.

THE RING Editorial Board has allowed Guillermo Rigondeaux to remain our junior featherweight champion well beyond that which our policy dictates because we feel top contenders have avoided him. Push has come to shove, though.

Our policy is this: Champions must fight a Top 5 contender in any division within 18 months to retain their belts. For Rigondeaux, it’s been close to three years.

And his choice of an opponent for March 12 – someone named James Dickens – hurt his cause and prompted us to consider making a move now. James Dickens? Seriously? Rigo couldn’t have come up with an opponent we’ve at least heard of?

Still, we weren’t sure what to do about Rigondeaux. These were what we considered our three best options.

1. Leave him as champion for a little while longer. The Nos. 1 and 2 junior featherweight contenders – Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton – are scheduled to fight on Feb. 27. Both of them have said they are willing to fight Rigondeaux. Thus, it would be possible that the champion could face the winner of Quigg-Frampton later this year. The problem: What if he doesn’t? What if the winner avoids Rigondeaux for a year or more, which isn’t difficult to imagine? Then, through no fault of Rigondeaux’s, we’d be in the same position we are now. This could go on forever.

2. Strip Rigondeaux of his championship and move him below Quigg and Frampton in the ratings, which would allow them to fight for the vacant championship. The problem: We feel strongly that Rigondeaux is the best fighter in the division. Plus, to bump him down and have his rivals fight for the title would seem as if we’re manufacturing a champion. And it wouldn’t be fair to Rigondeaux for the reasons stated in the lead-in to this story. The Cuban has played some role in his own fate but no one would dispute the notion that he is one of the most avoided fighters in the world.

3. Strip Rigondeaux, bump him down to No. 1 and drop Quigg and Frampton to Nos. 2 and 3. The idea here would be to abide by our policy – albeit after a long delay – yet keep Rigondeaux in the position we feel he belongs at the moment. Then we’d see what happens with Quigg and Frampton. If the winner remains No. 2 or jumps to No. 1 because of a particularly strong performance and fights Rigondeaux, that would be for the RING championship. And in the event of a Quigg-Frampton rematch? That conceivably could be for the title if the winner jumps to No. 1 while the loser remains no lower than No. 3. In other words, we’d take the title out of our hands and put into those of the fighters.

Our decision: We opted to go with No. 3.

Rigondeaux is no longer the RING junior featherweight champion but he’s in position to fight for it again in the near future. Quigg and Frampton also are largely in charge of their own destiny, meaning the winner of their fight very likely will be a position to fight for the championship sometime soon.

Now we’ll just sit back and see how it all plays out.

In other divisions:

BANTAMWEIGHT

Randy Caballero was No. 6 last week but has outgrown the division. He was removed from the ratings. Venezuelan Liborio Solis enters at No. 10.

STRAWWEIGHT

Knockout CP Freshmart (No. 4 last week) moves up one notch after outpointing Carlos Buitrago (No. 7 last week) on Thursday. Buitrago drops to No. 9.