Guillermo Rigondeaux wanted to make a statement in his final fight with Top Rank. Instead he found himself in the middle of a controversial stoppage.

After both fighters were separated by referee Mark Nelson following a clash of heads midway in the first round, Rigondeaux looked like he was in a hurry to go home. As he appeared to touch gloves with the visibly dazed Sod Kokietgym, the Cuban “jackal” quickly landed a right-left combination that immediately knocked the 37 year old Thai down to the canvass, thus ending the fight at the 1:44 mark of round one.

The victory enabled Rigondeaux to keep his WBA (super), WBO and Ring super bantamweight belts and improve his unbeaten record to 14-0 with 9 KOs. It however sparked a debate on whether Rigondeaux threw an illegal combination.

Illegal Blows

While nobody questions the superiority of Rigondeaux over the unknown Sod Kokietgym, a lot of experts ponder on the punches he threw right after the break. While the punch wasn’t exactly the same one thrown by Floyd Mayweather Jr. against Victor Ortiz in 2011, it was split seconds close to that. And it had the same moral lesson for the victim: Protect yourself at all times. But for a fighter in Rigondeaux’s caliber, he didn’t need a surprise ending to dispose of an overmatched foe in what was supposed to be his coming out party.

Kokietgym had not lost a bout in nearly a decade. But his 62-3-1 with 28 KOs record was as shady as the hometown boxing decisions in Thailand. He was the least of opponents that Rigo needed to cement his legacy and win millions of boxing fans in Asia, specifically China. Rigondeaux came to the bout looking to make a statement in the final fight of his Top Rank contract. He came out with nothing except the belts that he had already carried with him across the continents.

Free Agent

Rigondeaux now is officially a free agent, as the bout was the last installment in his four fight contract with Top Rank. But while Top Rank boss Bob Arum had said that he needed one impressive show from Rigo to sign him again, the controversial stoppage might have sealed the deal on their business divorce.

Last March, Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza had hinted that they wanted to sign the slick boxing Olympic Gold medalist once he is a free agent, but it’s uncertain if that statement still holds, especially after not getting a good account from Rigondeaux on Saturday night. Yet it’s too early to tell where Rigo’s ship will dock after this, but if this was the indication that destination is towards pro boxing obscurity.

Rigo’s Future

Cross your fingers that Rigo’s phone will come ringing next week and that Espinoza’s the one calling him. Golden Boy’s Leo Santa Cruz, the WBC 122 pound champion, fought his last bout under Showtime Pay Per View. It would be a game changer for Rigondeaux if Espinoza signs him and signs him to a fight with Santa Cruz. Because whether Rigo likes it or not, he needs a grand slam homerun in his next fight. Otherwise, he may never get to headline a major PPV card despite being one of the greatest boxers of this generation.

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