MANILA, Philippines – Vincent Astrolabio knocked down Guillermo Rigondeaux in the eighth round to earn a close unanimous decision and clinch the World Boxing Council (WBC) intercontinental bantamweight crown Saturday night, February 26, at The Lawns Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, UAE.
A huge underdog, Astrolabio fought Rigondeaux on even terms throughout the 10-rounder and got the nod of the three judges when he floored the former two-division world champion with a left-right combination late in the pivotal round.
Judges Florian of Hungary, Dubai-based Gary Kitanoski of the United Kingdom, and Rey Danseco of the Philippines all saw Astrolabio the winner with similar 95-94 scores.
Although he failed to knock Rigondeaux out, Astrolabio go one better over heralded compatriots Nonito Donaire Jr., the WBC bantamweight champion, and Johnriel Casimero, the World Boxing Organization titlist, by sending the future Hall of Famer down.
Donaire lost by unanimous decision to Rigondeaux in 2013 while Casimero eked out a boring split decision over the Cuban great in August 2021.
Astrolabio, a 24-year-old find from General Santos City, raised his record to 17-3 with 12 knockouts and put himself in line for a crack at Donaire, Casimero, and Naoya Inoue, the unified World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion.
A rematch between Donaire and Inoue, who bested the “Filipino Flash” in what turned out to be the Fight of the Year in 2019, is being worked out for April in Japan.
Casimero, on the other hand, is slated to dangle his title against mandatory challenger Paul Butler on April 22 at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England. They were supposed to clash on December 11 in Dubai, but the bout got scrapped after Casimero suffered from viral gastritis on the eve of the official weigh-in.
Trained by Nonoy Neri at the MP (Manny Pacquiao) boxing gym in Davao, Astrolabio stretched his mastery of southpaws with Rigondeaux being his eighth victim.
Astrolabio put a damper on the 41-year-old Rigondeaux’s bid to return to the elite circle after that forgettable loss to Casimero.
Even if he retires, however, Rigondeaux’s ring legacy is secured being a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a two-time World Amateur champion, a three-time World Cup winner, and a seven-time Cuba national champion.
For his part, Astrolabio’s quest for glory continues.
In the undercard, Filipino journeyman Mark John Yap lost to Cuban sensation Jadiel Herrera by unanimous decision, 97-92, 98-91, 99-91.
Yap scored a flash knockdown in the eighth round, but it wasn’t enough to reverse the outcome as Herrera improved to 6-0 with 5 knockouts. Yap dropped to 30-16, 15 knockouts. – Rappler.com