Guillermo ‘The Jackal’ Rigondeaux 19-1 (13) delivered an impressive come-from-behind knockout of Julio Ceja 32-4 (28) at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday night.
The 38-year-old southpaw, who has been criticised for his safety-first approach in the past, stood in the pocket and traded shots with the heavy-handed Mexican for much of the fight.
Trailing by scores of 65-68, 66-67 and 65-68, Rigondeaux closed the show with a devastating left cross in the eighth frame. Official time of the stoppage was 2:59.
“People were saying that I get on the bicycle and run a lot. Well that’s not true, so I wanted to show them I could fight in short distance and I wanted to get a couple of rounds in. Then that left hand came and ended the fight,” Rigondeaux said.
“I knew I was going to catch him with the left, but it wasn’t there in the beginning. I knew in the later rounds that I could use it and actually catch him. We practiced that every day and it paid off.”
Ceja applied pressure from the opening bell, raking Rigondeaux’s body with a two-fisted assault. The slick Cuban too the shots well and countered with left hand leads.
In the fourth round both boxers were warned for straying low. Rigondeaux came on strong in the fifth, landing a series of lead left uppercuts to Ceja’s head that left him bleeding from the nose. Ceja rebounded in the sixth with his relentless pressure and superior workrate on the inside.
In a scrappy eight round boxer boxers were docked a point for low blows. With six seconds left in the round Rigondeaux landed a jarring left cross that dropped Ceja to the seat of his pants. The 26-year-old Mexican beat the count but referee Russell Mora ruled him unfit to continue.
With the win Rigondeaux becomes the mandatory challenger to the winner of WBC super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas’s title defence against Tomoki Kameda at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on July 13.