There are few fighters whose mastery of the sweet science and outstanding boxing skills have allowed them to utilise the sport of boxing as an art form; the ability to truly espouse the mantra known as, “hit and not be hit”. Willie Pep, perhaps the sports best practitioner of utilising the sport as an art form, was able to use his flawless knowledge of the sweet science to showcase his boxing ability, neutralising his opponents physical strengths, power, speed and conditioning to be victorious. Pep’s lack of height or physical abilities did not prevent him from becoming an all-time great in the sport; the late Bert Randolph Sugar, one of boxing’s most prominent historians, ranks Pep as the third best boxer, pound-for-pound of all time, only behind Sugar Ray Robinson and Henry Armstrong. Fighters such as the great Archie Moore were also able to use their boxing knowledge and understanding of the sport to record an outstanding career and to be recognised as all-time great. In the modern era, one can look at boxers such as Ricardo ‘Finito’ Lopez and Bernard Hopkins as fighters who have displayed their understanding of the sport to treat the sport as a true art form, defeating much stronger and physically gifted boxers with their boxing ability and their outstanding knowledge and application of the sweet science. One more fighter can undoubtedly be added to the aforementioned boxers; a boxer whose outstanding understanding of the sport and ability to showcase the sport as an art form; Cuba’s Guillermo ‘El Chacal’ Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux’s record to date as an amateur and professional boxing is an outstanding one; an amateur, Rigondeaux possessed a record of 374-12, with some noting that the number of wins could be closer to 400 due to unconfirmed amateur records from Cuba. He is one of only two currently active professional boxers to have won two gold medals (Ukrainian boxing sensation Vasyl Lomachenko is the other). Furthermore, he won gold medals in the World Amateur Championships (2001, 2005), Pan American games (2003); the list goes on, and shows the greatness of “ El Chacal”.
The outstanding technique and boxing skills which Rigondeaux showed the world in the amateur ranks and the Olympics was on clear display in the professional ranks; the blinding speed, bludgeoning power, immaculate technique with both hands and foot movement, amazing defensive and counter-punching abilities and terrific anticipation of what his opponent will throw before he throws the punch. These skills have led Rigondeaux to success in the professional ranks, with victories over skilled fighter such as Rico Ramos, Joseph Agbeko and most notably Nonito Donaire, who before facing Rigondeaux, was universally recognised as a world-class fighter and a top 5 pound-for-pound fighter. Many fought that Donaire’s experience in the professional ranks and his talent would prevail over Rigondeaux; Rigondeaux proved otherwise, outclassing and beating Donaire, using his speed, technical ability and superior ring intelligence.
Despite his win over Donaire, and subsequently his victories over Joseph Agbeko and Sod Kokietgym, there have been many who regard Rigondeaux’s style as “boring” or lacking in action. This has also been shown by HBO’s reluctance to show Rigondeaux on their network after his unanimous, if uncompetitive win over Joseph Agbeko. The question that many ask is why do are so many Rigondeaux’s fights uncompetitive or lacking in action? Whilst some point to Rigondeaux’s style of counter-punching and lack of punching, a more cogent reason is apparent when we consider and watch Guillermo Rigondeaux fight. In several fights, including his victories over Rico Ramos and Joseph Agbeko, Rigondeaux’s accurate and precise counter-punching, the extreme difficulty to hit Rigondeaux due to his exceptional defensive skills and his ability to throw his counters with such power and force shocks and stuns his opponents.; they are unwilling to be hit with such powerful and accurate counter-punches, thus retreat and are unable to find another option or strategy to fight Rigondeaux. Ramos and Agbeko, two well-known fighters who have the ability to hurt fighters with their power and boxing style, were stunned by Rigondeaux in the early rounds of their fights, thus retreated, with Ramos being knocked out by a body shot in the 6th round, and Agbeko losing all 12 rounds against Rigondeaux. Donaire, to his credit, endeavoured to fight Rigondeaux despite seeming though he did not have a strategy to prevent Rigondeaux’s left hook which neutralised his jab and Rigondeaux’s lateral movement and punching from angles; he was able to get inside Rigondeaux, and after finding some space whilst clutching Rigondeaux, he threw a left-hook from the southpaw stance to knock Rigondeaux down. This only led Rigondeaux to increase the tempo, and a hard straight left hand closed Donaire’s eye, which lead to Donaire being constantly pummeled with straight left hands and hurting Donaire.
Guillermo Rigondeaux’s last fight, a first round knockout over Sod Kokietgym from Thailand, also represented his last fight contracted to Top Rank, an often fraught relationship with Top Rank’s Bob Arum on many times voicing his displeasure with the Cuban fighter’s style and lack of marketability. Several boxing promoters are rumoured to be interested in promoting Rigondeaux, including the British promoter Frank Warren, who has publicly stated his willingness to promote the Cuban boxer. Confirmation has yet to be given on Rigondeaux’s new promoter, however, there is a strong sense that the change of promoter will lead to him fighting on a more regular basis, which would be welcome by fans of the skilled fighter.
The outstanding ability and skills of Rigondeaux are apparent to all; some are enamoured and are hugely appreciative of Rigondeaux’s pure application of the sweet science, others are not keen on the emphasis of counterpunching and boxing intelligence, preferring to see more action in bouts. Regardless of where people stand on the entertainment value of Rigondeaux, one thing is for certain; the combination of skills and ring intelligence that El Chacal possesses are truly impressive, demonstrating a mastery of the sweet science at its purest level. Undoubtedly, Rigondeaux’s work is akin to that of an artist, the true application of his skills may not be appreciated by all, but due to its genuine mastery and application, its ability, skill and appreciation will not be lost by the many fans who enjoy the the sweet science at the highest level.
Article By Qadeer Ali @