Junior featherweight world titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux and interim titlist Moises Flores were ordered Wednesday to meet in an immediate rematch following their first-round no decision on June 17.
Fighting at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas in the co-feature of the light heavyweight world title rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, Rigondeaux knocked Flores out with a clean left hand as they were both throwing punches at the end of the first round to retain his 122-pound belt for the eighth time. However, the punch was thrown after the bell.
Referee Vic Drakulich initially declared a first-round KO win for Rigondeaux, even after consulting television replays. However, there was no audio available to him at ringside so he could not hear whether the bell had sounded before the punch was thrown.
When he and Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, viewed the fight the following morning it was clear the punch was thrown accidentally after the bell.
A week later, following a formal protest by Flores, the commission voted 4-0 to change the result from a Rigondeaux victory to a no decision, which meant Flores still has his interim world title.
The WBA, which recognizes Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) as its world titleholder and Flores (25-0, 17 KOs) as its interim titlist, therefore, ordered the rematch of the mandatory bout.
In a letter ratifying its decision, the WBA wrote that it had reviewed the fight and “the report confirmed Rigondeaux’s knockout punch landed after the sound of the bell, thus it is a breach [of] boxing rules. … The use of the instant replay was not done convincingly in order to avoid the controversy at the end of this bout. We suggest reviewing the WBA protocol for the use of the instant replay. Despite the reversed decision, medical safety shall be considered since Flores was actually knocked out.”
The Nevada commission gave Flores, 30, of Mexico, a 60-day medical suspension because of the knockout, but it will not interfere with a potential rematch. The WBA ruled that the rematch must happen within 150 days of the first bout (mid-November).
The WBA further ruled that Miami’s Rigondeaux, 36, a two-time Cuban Olympian who defected, and Flores have 30 days to negotiate the rematch following the end of Flores’ suspension on Aug. 17. If they can’t reach an agreement the fight will be put up for a purse bid with Rigondeaux getting 75 percent of a winning bid and Flores receiving 25 percent.