Former two-time Olympic gold medalist and unified super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux scored a one-punch knockout of game Mexican former champion Julio Ceja in the eighth round.
Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KOs), known usually for his defensive style, stood in the phone booth from the opening bell, which played into Ceja’s hands. Ceja (32-4, 28 KOs) outpunched Rigondeaux, landing an astounding 225 punches before Rigondeaux landed a one-hitter quitter of a left hand in the closing seconds of the eighth. Ceja rose to his feet but referee Russell Mora didn’t like what he saw from the fighter and stopped the fight.
Rigondeaux fought well in the first round but Ceja took over the next couple of stanzas. You could barely fit a piece of paper between the two to separate them as Ceja dug deep shots to the body and even rocked Rigondeaux at the end of the sixth. Ceja’s nose was bleeding midway through the fight — it was a broken nose that caused his last fight to end in a corner retirement.
Rigondeaux, the Cuban wizard, had never been hit by more than 82 punches in any previous fight before Sunday night. His usual style is a play-it-safe kind, where he probes with a jab from the outside and counters. He ditched that completely and was likely trailing on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage. The 38-year-old lineal super bantamweight champion may be losing his legs a bit, and that translated into a very exciting back-and-forth brawl. The fight was a WBC title eliminator, which puts him in line to face unbeaten Mexican Rey Vargas.