Bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux 20-1 (13) edged out Liborio Solis 30-6-1 (14) to win a split decision victory at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Saturday night.
The fight took place on the undercard of the WBC featherweight title defence between champion Gary Russell Jr and challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar. With the victory Rigondeaux earned the vacant WBA ‘regular’ bantamweight title.
Venezuelan Solis, 37, started well, rocking Rigondeaux with a left hook during the first frame, but it was the 39-year-old Cuban southpaw who took over in the mid rounds with his economical but accurate punching.
Rigondeaux sent Solis into the ropes with a left uppercut in the seventh, ruled a knockdown by referee Benjy Esteves. In the 10th Rigondeaux had another burst of activity, strafing Solis with a series of lefts.
When the dust settled after 12, referees Ron McNair and Kevin Morgan had the fight for Rigondeaux by scores of 116-111 and 115-112 respectively, while judge Don Ackerman turned in a score of 115-112 for Solis.
“Like I’ve showed everyone before, I can fight right in the middle of the ring,” Rigondeaux said.
“I tried that in the first round, but after that round, Ronnie Shields told me to show him some boxing and cut the ring off. I’m available for anyone who wants to get in the ring. Who do the fans want to see me fight? I’m ready for any fighter. Now that I’m at my weight, let’s go hunting.
“Liborio is an excellent fighter, but I saw the opportunity to strike and scored the knockdown. Ronnie Shields is the real champion. The preparation that he gave me for this fight was incredible. Ronnie is one of the best.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Solis was disappointed with the result.
“I thought I won the fight,” Solis said. “Going backwards is no way to win a vacant title. I put the majority of the pressure on him. I’m not going to argue with the judges, but I thought I did enough to win.
“The punch surprised me on the knockdown, but I wasn’t hurt. I was ready to fight immediately right after.
“I hurt him in the first round and that’s what caused him to run. I’d like a rematch because I thought I got the better of him tonight.”