FORMER unified world super-bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux makes his ring return against a Filipino boxer in the undercard of the Miguel Coto-Canelo Alvarez world middleweight title fight.
And his name is not Nonito Donaire Jr.
The unbeaten Cuban faces underdog Drian Francisco at the Mandalay Bay Casino and Hotel on Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time) in a 10-round, non-title bout in the undercard of the fight between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez.
This will be the first ring appearance of the two-time Olympic gold medalist since being stripped of both his World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) 122-lbs belts due to inactivity. The Cuban has not fought since scoring an 11th round stoppage of Hisashi Amagasa in December of 2014.
For Francisco though, the bout against Rigondeaux (15-0, 10 KOs) – offered to him on short notice - is a boost to his roller-coaster career that has failed to fully take off despite a promising start.
Francisco, 33, said he has what it takes to pull off an upset against his fancied foe especially after watching the fight between Rogondeaux and Donaire.
“After seeing him beat Nonito [Donaire], I told myself that I can do this,” Francisco said in an interview with ringtv.craveonline.com.
“It’s also my dream fight. All boxers, their greatest goal is to have a fight for a world championship. So I’m not going to let this pass me by. I’m going to do everything I can to win.”
Francisco (28-3-1, 22 KOs) now trains at the Manny Pacquiao gym in Davao City and has won his last fight against Jilo Merlin last September (1st round KO) since his shocking first-round technical knockout loss to Jayson Canoy in May.
He owns impressive wins over world title contender Ricardo Nunez (5th round K0) in a WBA super-flyweight title eliminator five years ago and against Duangpetch Kokietgym (10th round, TKO) that same year to earn the WBA interim super-flyweight crown.