Rating the fights, together with Moloney-Franco 3, on a busy night time for boxing on Aug. 14


Guillermo Rigondeaux has heard all of it earlier than.

He is boring. Unwatchable. The other of entertaining. The 2-time Olympic gold medalist absorbed all of the criticism at the same time as he was boxing circles round his opponents. Nonito Donaire, then the reigning ESPN fighter of the year, was completely outboxed by Rigondeaux in 2013. Regardless of his unbridled expertise, the Cuban was panned by followers and even his then-promoter, Bob Arum, earlier than Prime Rank launched him.

Now 40, Rigondeaux’s legs aren’t what they was once. This model of “El Chacal” is much extra stationary, and that generally means the type of warfare that brings followers to their toes. His 2019 battle with former champion Julio Ceja was thrilling, a bout that Rigondeaux received by eighth-round TKO.

He moved from 122 kilos to 118 for his subsequent, and most up-to-date battle — a February 2020 determination over Liborio Solis. That bout was decidedly much less entertaining, however Rigo nonetheless confirmed off his highly effective left hand with a seventh-round knockdown.

On Saturday, Rigondeaux (20-1, 13 KOs) will search to change into a two-division champion when he faces John Riel Casimero, his hardest opponent since he fought Vasiliy Lomachenko at 130 pounds. Casimero possesses large energy and the type of reckless, free-swinging model that’s assured to provide fireworks.

The 118-pound title battle headlines a PBC on Showtime card in Carson, California, that guarantees to ship the perfect leisure worth on a stacked Saturday that features two different notable boxing reveals. It is not misplaced on Rigondeaux that his former promoter will likely be staging an occasion in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on that very same night time headlined by the trilogy between 115-pounders Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney.

“In fact, it provides me pleasure that persons are going to be watching my battle over [Top Rank’s] battle,” Rigondeaux instructed ESPN by a translator. “I do not know what [Arum] has in opposition to me, I do not know why he hates me. I am simply going to go on the market, do my job and provides followers an excellent battle.”

Elsewhere Saturday, budding welterweight star Vergil Ortiz Jr. will step up as soon as once more when he fights Egidijus Kavaliauskas in Frisco, Texas, on DAZN.

With a lot boxing to select from, this is how I am rating the principle occasions when it comes to each leisure worth and significance.

No. 1: John Riel Casimero vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux

10 p.m. ET, Showtime

Why you must watch: The bantamweight title battle is essentially the most even matchup of the three primary occasions on paper, and by far essentially the most compelling. Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) has been using excessive, with back-to-back stoppages over stable foes. The 31-year-old scored a blistering third-round TKO of Zolani Tete to win the title in November 2019 after which stopped the undefeated Duke Micah in the identical spherical one yr later.

On Saturday Casimero will face his hardest take a look at but. Rigondeaux is an excellent defensive fighter who will look to select off Casimero’s incoming photographs earlier than delivering his personal energy punches. This traditional stylistic matchup is a recipe for an motion battle: a hard-charging, fearless puncher in opposition to a composed counter-puncher. Rigondeaux additionally packs loads of pop, particularly now that he is at 118 kilos. Each of those fighters are on the precipice of a title shot with Rigondeaux ranked as ESPN’s No. 2 bantamweight and Casimero at No. 4.

Casimero-Rigondeaux was anticipated within the spring, however when Donaire reclaimed a 118-pound title with a knockout of Nordine Oubaali in Might, PBC shortly moved to insert Donaire in Rigondeaux’s place. However the title unification between the 2 Filipino fighters fell aside after a squabble over drug testing, mixed with private insults from Casimero’s camp that Donaire discovered too disrespectful.

With Donaire out, Rigondeaux slid again in.

What’s at stake: The winner will likely be primed for a shot at Naoya Inoue, the No. 1 fighter at 118 kilos who holds two world titles within the division. There’s additionally the potential of Donaire reentering the image.

Inoue is likely one of the finest pound-for-pound boxers within the sport and will likely be a favourite over both, however each Casimero and Rigondeaux would signify the Japanese star’s hardest job since he stopped Donaire in 2019.

For Rigondeaux, that is maybe a closing likelihood to name himself champion. At 40 years previous, he is not simply seeking to as soon as once more declare that standing, however accomplish that in a second division after a future at 122 kilos the place he was typically prevented by the “title” fighters.

Casimero finds himself in a far totally different spot in his profession, however the stakes are equally excessive. If he can knock out Rigondeaux, he too will likely be an enormous payday, in addition to the potential of pound-for-pound standing.

No. 2: Vergil Ortiz vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas

8 p.m. ET, DAZN

Why you must watch: Kavaliauskas is one more measuring stick for Ortiz, one in every of boxing’s finest younger skills. Kavaliauskas’ lone skilled defeat got here inside the gap in opposition to Terence Crawford, however he put up a spirited effort. He even scored a knockdown of Crawford that the referee incorrectly waved off.

This battle is about Ortiz, although. The 23-year-old seems to be the actual deal, a strain fighter with energy in each fingers. All of Ortiz’s fights have ended inside the gap, and as his stage of competitors has elevated, the Dallas native has carried out even higher.

His March battle with former champion Maurice Hooker — by far his finest opponent to this point — ended with a seventh-round KO. The bout was thrilling as Ortiz (17-0, 17 KOs) absorbed loads of energy photographs, too.

Ortiz is all the time on the entrance foot and hasn’t been in a foul battle but. This battle in opposition to Kavaliauskas will likely be all-action, too, for so long as it lasts. And like Ortiz, Kavaliauskas packs loads of energy. He as soon as was a adorned prospect himself, a feared puncher constructed up by Prime Rank earlier than some disappointing performances, together with a controversial draw in opposition to Ray Robinson.

What’s at stake: For Ortiz, an opportunity to additional cement himself as probably the greatest younger fighters within the recreation. With one other knockout, he might be lined up for a title shot in his subsequent battle. If he struggles in opposition to Kavaliauskas, his legitimacy will likely be questioned.

The welterweight division is one in every of boxing’s finest, and it is also chock stuffed with recent expertise able to climb the ranks. Apart from Ortiz, there’s Jaron Ennis, Eimantas Stanionis and Conor Benn. A number of months in the past, Ennis scored a TKO over Sergey Lipinets in his personal step-up battle.

Now it is Ortiz’s flip. Ortiz is ESPN’s No. 6 boxer at 147 kilos; Ennis is No. 8. A convincing win over a battle-tested opponent like Kavaliauskas would go a great distance towards separating Ortiz from Ennis and the remainder of the pack.

If Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18 KOs) needs to stave off long-term gatekeeper standing, the 33-year-old might want to not less than push Ortiz to the brink. If Kavaliauskas succumbs to Ortiz’s energy and aggression with out placing up a battle, he will likely be an afterthought at 147. He was launched by Prime Rank earlier than linking up with Golden Boy, which additionally promotes Ortiz.

No. 3: Joshua Franco vs. Andrew Moloney

10 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN+ (Undercard starting at 6 p.m., ESPN+)

Why you must watch: what you are getting with this battle. The primary two battles between the pair offered back-and-forth motion.

The third bout figures to be the perfect, too. San Antonio’s Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) earned a good unanimous-decision victory within the first assembly in June 2020, scoring an eleventh spherical knockdown. Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs) gave the impression to be in management in Spherical 2 of the November rematch, however the bout was abruptly halted when Franco’s eye instantly swelled shut following a Moloney punch.

The battle ought to have been dominated a TKO victory for Moloney, however as an alternative it was deemed a no contest when the referee mentioned the attention harm was the results of an unintentional headbutt. After a 20+ minute replay course of that ran far longer than the 2 rounds of motion, the ruling was nonetheless upheld. It despatched Arum, who promotes Moloney, right into a rage in Las Vegas; Franco is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya.

It is solely proper that the 115-pounders will meet yet another time. With all of the controversy surrounding the second bout, there needs to be a definitive ending.

What’s at stake: The winner will likely be primed for a shot at one of many division’s massive 4 — Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Kazuto Ioka and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. All 4 boxers aren’t simply the perfect at junior bantamweight — they’re 4 of the perfect pound-for-pound boxers on this planet. A 115-pound bout that does not function any of the quartet is decidedly much less compelling when contemplating what’s really at stake.

Moloney, 30, and Franco, 25, would each be appreciable underdogs in opposition to any of the large 4, regardless of their very own standing; Franco is rated No. 6 by ESPN with Moloney one slot behind him.

Franco-Moloney 2 was the chief-support bout to Crawford-Kell Brook on ESPN. This matchup absolutely suits higher as a co-feature than a primary occasion, however it’ll headline Prime Rank’s card. There’s, after all, a compelling storyline as Moloney seems to realize revenge after the best way their final assembly ended. Additionally regulate Andrew’s twin brother, Jason, who fights Joshua Greer on the undercard.

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