Boxers Teon Kennedy, left, and Guillermo Rigondeaux pose during their… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)
The three preliminary fights on the pay-per-view portion of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley card include two world championship fights that could rightly be seen as a proving ground for the four boxers involved.
Cuban defector Guillermo Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic champion hailed as the greatest amateur in history, is putting an unbeaten record and his World Boxing Council title on the line in a super bantamweight matchup with once-beaten Teon Kennedy of Philadelphia.
The knock on Rigondeaux (9-0, 7 knockouts) is that, after nearly 400 amateur fights in Cuba, he has had trouble transitioning to the pro style. Amateur fights last just three rounds and are scored on punches landed, meaning boxers concentrate on style of technique over punching power. In the pro ranks, title fights go 12 rounds and TV viewers want to see knockouts.
“If he keeps fighting the amateur style, he’s not marketable,” said promoter Bob Arum, who would like to match Rigondeaux against the likes of Abner Mares, Nonito Donaire or Rafael Marquez. “This is not the Olympics where people come and watch because it’s the Olympics. Here we’ve got to sell tickets.”
Kennedy, meanwhile, is ranked just 14th by the World Boxing Assn. despite a 17-1-2 record. And though he has had a loss and a draw in his last two fights, he could go home with a belt if he wins in Las Vegas.
His stablemate Mike Jones could also return to Philadelphia with a world title if he can get by Randall Bailey of Miami (42-7, 36 KOs) in a fight for the vacant International Boxing Federation welterweight crown.
Jones is unbeaten in 26 pro bouts and fighting for a title for the first time.
"I have this chance for a world championship and I'm going to make the most of it," said Jones, who remained composed when Bailey tried to heckle him at Thursday's undercard news conference. "I've wanted a title since I was 15."
For the 37-year-old Bailey, who is trying to show he is still a viable championship contender despite his age, this could be his last shot at a title. He's lost four times in seven previous title fights.
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