7. Guillermo Rigondeaux
There are few cases more maddening in boxing than that of Cuban maestro Guillermo Rigondeaux. The amateur legend and undefeated super bantamweight champion only fought once in both 2015 and 2016, and against inferior opposition on both occasions. At age 36, one has to wonder how much Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) has left and whether another marquee fight will simply elude him. The first question, at least, should be answered when Rigondeaux defends his title against Moises Flores — a powerful, undefeated challenger — on the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev undercard.
Certain boxing writers have been leading a smear campaign against Rigondeaux for years, devaluing his virtuoso performance against Nonito Donaire and tying in Rigondeaux’s insomnia-curing fighting style into any story about the great Cuban. Sure, Rigondeaux’s approach isn’t for everyone, and it certainly doesn’t thrill on a visceral level; that, however, doesn’t mean he deserves to be attacked as if defensively responsible tactics and genius counter-puncher are horrific character flaws.
What Rigondeaux needs more than anything at this point is activity and consistency. A knockout of Flores on a major pay-per-view card would be an important step to propel him into fights against any of the elite talent at 122 pounds, or even the stalwarts at 126 like Carl Frampton, Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russel Jr. and Oscar Valdez (to name a few — and politics aside) if Rigondeaux can move up. Rigondeaux must work quickly, though. His time on this list depends on it, and patience is wearing thin.