Confessions Of A Rigondeaux Fan
Yup, I’m one of them, a Guillermo Rigondeaux fan. A Guillermo Rigondeaux defender. A Guillermo Rigondeaux supporter. Not that long ago, when I was just starting off in this fight writing racket, I wrote a piece defending the Cuban great in the face of blistering criticism that the man was “boring.” Man, did I take heat for that one. Here I was, a rookie fight writer, and a New York Times best-selling author actually wrote a hit piece on me for backing Rigondeaux. Talk about a baptism by fire.
Generally speaking, those of us who write about boxing have to try to keep our personalities out of the things we write. In this case, though, I’m going to step up and take my medicine. There’s nothing more unseemly than a flighty fan, after all, so it’s time for those of us who supported El Chacal to go down with the ship.
First, though, let’s get a few things straight. Guillermo Rigondeaux is/was a genuinely great boxer. One simply doesn’t cruise past the likes of Nonito Donaire and leave that elite-level fighter forever diminished without being in possession of some serious skill and talent. All a truly interested fan has to do really, is check out some pre-Lomachenko clips of “El Chacal” on YouTube to see how amazing the guy can be. Talk about the ability to hit without getting hit in return. Rigondeaux is slick, ice cold, and seemingly hypnotic to his competition, who he lulls into a kind of trance. All that said, the guy can indeed be boring. Brutally so.
But let’s also call a spade a spade: Rigo was so good that he was ducked. Over and over again. Carl Frampton, while riding high, wanted nothing to do with him. Either that or Barry McGuigan didn’t. It was infuriating to see a guy like Frampton slip away from Rigondeaux in order to further his popularity and wallet. The same holds true for Leo Santa Cruz, who, if memory serves me correctly, once stated outright he was willing to face Rigo in the ring but, as we all know, talk is cheap. The bottom line is some of the best fighters out there acted like total pansies when it came to Rigondeaux. And now, after last night’s debacle, they are in no position to say “I told you so.”
Let’s get back to the boring charge, for a moment. While it’s true Rigo could be a snoozer, George Foreman was right when he claimed that boxing is like jazz – the better it is, the less people like it. And just because we fans love to be entertained, we should also keep in mind that boxing is a sport, not just a form of entertainment. The blood and guts stuff carries a wide appeal, but it’s not what pugilism essentially is. There are rules and conventions and ever since James J. Corbett took John L. Sullivan to boxing school back in 1892, every boxer has had to learn the basic techniques. If mastery of such technique can lead to such dominance that matches become tedious, should we not still be able to appreciate a boxer’s skill and ring brilliance?
Which brings us to Vasyl Lomachenko. The Ukranian himself stated after Saturday’s battle that size did, in fact, matter; that Rigo essentially had no chance against him due to elements outside the Cuban exile’s control. With all due respect to Lomachenko, he couldn’t be more wrong. Rigondeaux is a truly great fighter, but Loma proved himself a better one, at least at this point in time. And after last night, I’m not sure even a prime “El Chacal” could prevail against the astonishing combination of athleticism, inventiveness and talent that is “Hi-Tech.”
Having said all this, it’s time to face the ugliest aspect of Saturday night’s fight: Rigondeaux’s “no mas” moment. Seriously, what the hell was that? Sorry, but I’m not buying the injured hand excuse. After all, there are too many examples of great boxers fighting through pain and injury, answering the bell despite broken bones or sustained beatings. Even if Guillermo’s hand was injured, that doesn’t excuse what he did. But more to the point, I just don’t believe that’s why he surrendered. The harsh lesson Loma was teaching Rigondeaux last night is, in my view, the real reason “El Chacal” stayed on his stool when the bell rang for round seven.
And, if my conclusion is correct, that’s just pathetic. It’s not like Rigo had taken a tremendous amount of punishment, or had been staggered or cut. But then again, it’s easy for fight fans and pundits to condemn the boxer who surrenders, while most of us have never even laced up the gloves and stepped into the square circle. After all, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this sort of thing. How many fighters now have bailed after a few rounds with Lomachenko, have chosen to exit in shame instead of letting things proceed to their logical conclusion? Perhaps we’re seeing something unique here, a boxer who is so brilliant and dominant that he breaks the wills of some of the toughest and iciest champions. If this keeps going, it could be almost unprecedented.
But Lomachenko’s talent and prowess doesn’t excuse or obscure the fact that Guillermo Rigondeaux chose the most self-debasing kind of exit possible. And, looking objectively on Rigondeaux’s tough life, accomplishments and incredible skill set, that’s truly saying something. — Sean Crose
10 thoughts on “Confessions Of A Rigondeaux Fan”
Another long time Rigo fan here – I recently published a book on Amazon titled ‘Forgotten Legends of the Ring’ One of the fighters I profiled was Charley Burley. I compared Rigondeauxs career to Burleys – avoided, called boring, defensive low volume counter puncher with one punch KO power, having to move up in weight to find fights but after last nights bizarre performance that comparison looks slightly foolish.
I’m not sure why Rigo quit, I also dont buy the hand excuse, why would he quit when he wasn’t hurt by Loma, he was avoiding most of what Loma was throwing but he looked disinterested, maybe after just three rounds in the past 2 years when the going for tough Rigo just could not find the resolve to continue. I cant explain it but it is such a shame Rigo, finally presented with the chance to silence his critics turned in such a heartless performance. He is too talented to be remembered for quitting against Lomachenko than for all the skills he has shown throughout his career.
I’m not sure what to make about the injured left hand myself. It would explain Rigondeaux’s lack of use of it during the match, but I have a feeling it was a matter of Lomachenko’s superb feints and movement playing havock with Guilermo’s timing. Perhaps a combination of both. The first round was what I was hoping the fight would be, but after the second it was all Lomachenko. This is the round Rigondeaux says he injured his hand, and if that is so, I really feel for the fella.
Interesting to note too that Rigondeaux quit after the point deduction. I’d say it was all just too much, moving up weight, bigger guy, being out boxed, broken/injured left hand if he’s telling the truth, then to top it off a deduction in the 6th. A sad finish man…
Mr. Rooney, good points:
“Moving up inweight” is a big thing. Age too plays a factor in this game. This all said, Lomo is so skilled I can’t see any credible challenger. If Rigo couldn’t at least show, who can?
We are in a “Hi Tech” era.
like you said, moving up in weight is a big thing. I think there are lots of valid challengers at lightweight for Loma. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Loma fight someone who isn’t smaller than him. *cough* Mikey Garcia *cough cough*.
I suppose a lame defence of Rigondueax’s surrender could be that by round 6, defeat was inevitable. The bigger man was out boxing him from round 2 onward, and i didn’t see Rigo land a single clean head shot. His puncher’s chance was diminished by the size difference, so that route to victory was improbable. Rigo isn’t a versatile fighter who can switch to a plan B, either. All things considered, by round 6, Rigo was probably down to a 1% chance of victory. The point of competition is to judge who the better person/ team is, and we got the answer, so why keep going?
There, that’s my lame defence of what Rigo did.
I’m still deeply sympathetic towards Rigo’s journey and his mistreatment in the sport. And I have contempt for the bias — in all martial art sports — against defensive fighters. But I got a slice of humble pie myself for staunchly defending him, and downplaying Loma’s skills. Rigo was more out-boxed than out-sized, and for that we must give Loma credit.
The fan in me really wants to believe he QUIT because he has a mandatory defense right away and was already so far behind why take more damage…. Regardless I’m still disappointed in Rigondeaux’s behavior.
I was thinking this too, Massey and Kaylem.
Since Guillermo had seen nearly everything in the amateurs, and is such an astute boxer, I’d say he realised what he was facing and knew he couldn’t beat it, like the original author suggests. If he did in fact injure his left hand, then his main weapon and chance of winning the fight was greatly compromised, just adding more to his decision.
Still I can’t help but feel that it’s the biggest fight of your life, there’s still 6 rounds left – give it all you got! Leave it in the ring! You haven’t felt his power yet! But like Massey, Kaylem and the Author mentioned, Rigondeaux most likely realised and understood there was nothing he could do.
Lomachenko one hell of a boxer. Some of his flanking movements reminded me a bit of Sugar Ray Robinson!
It wasn’t just his hand, he was frustrated with all the things happening, because the entire deck was stacked. I’m not a Rigo fan, and I’m a huge Loma fan, but…Rigo fights in some manner like Ward and Floyd, tying up the opponent, that was taken from him and he was punished for it. Fine, but Loma was allowed to hit behind the head, push his head down, and hit clearly after the bell. While every time Rigo even clinched Loma flagged around like a fish out of water. Loma is getting deference past Opponents of Floyd and Ward never got.
Loma is brilliant, but this fight was kind of out of control, with the size difference so large the sanctioning bodies were genuinely concerned about Rigo getting hurt.
I also have issue with the idea Rigo wasn’t hurt, he very well could have been. Getting hit with 50 punches by a guy bigger than you can do serious internal damage. If Rigo knew his hand was done and he was taken punishment while losing rounds, and not having any too,s to continue, there is no reason for him to put himself in anymore danger.
I have a feeling that when Loma fights a bigger guy who has the advantage on the inside that we’re going to see a ref like Cortez or Baylis who want to break the fighters immediately. Rigo lost all of the battles before the war, so he was really screwed going into this fight. If virgil Hunter had pulled Khan out of the canelo fight at round 5, people would have lost their minds but in hindsight it would have been the right call. Rigo, like Khan, was taking an increasing amount of punishment and may have saved himself a brutal K.O.