Guillermo Rigondeaux: Misunderstood & under-appreciated

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Former Heavyweight Champion George Foreman coined a famous phrase about the sweet science.

He said: "Boxing is like jazz, the better it is, the less people appreciate it."

I can see where Foreman is coming from - many casual boxing fans don't understand the sport in its entirety. They fail to realise that defence is just as important as attack, they can't appreciate the art of timing and footwork, and they don't see how outboxing an opponent for 12 rounds, takes as much skill as knocking him out cold in 30 seconds.

Guillermo Rigondeaux finds his style of boxing under attack from all quarters, boxing broadcaster HBO says they will not air his fights anymore, and many pundits and writers have criticised the conservative nature of his performance in his last fight against Nonito Donaire.

Quite frankly the boxing community needs to realise the grave mistake they are making, by treating Rigondeaux in this way. This guy is one of the most decorated amateurs of all time, two time Olympic champion, World champion, and so many other titles it would take me hours to type them all out, so to put it in another context, 475 fights, with only 12 losses.

Undefeated as a pro, and fresh off systematically destroying Nonito Donaire, (who many believed to be the best pound for pound fighter outside Mayweather and Pacquiao for many years), it is safe to say Rigondeaux is a born winner.

The chink in his armour, is this perceived 'negative' style he fights with. Firstly, most of this criticism came after the Donaire fight, before this fight, he was steamrolling opponents, ending most fights early with his devastating left hand.

'El Chacal' as he is also known, had to adapt to fight Donaire, up against a fast and aggressive power puncher, he couldn't amble forward in a reckless manner like he did against lower quality opponents, otherwise he would have been beaten, the quality of opponent dictated his game-plan.

Secondly, a fighter should not be called 'negative' just because he doesn't come forward and throw a lot of punches. It takes huge amounts of skill to counter-punch effectively, and make an opponent miss like Rigondeaux did against Donaire.

In my opinion, I in fact believe there is much more skill involved in this style of fighting, than an aggressive pressure fighter in the mould of Brandon Rios or Ricky Hatton.

Most of Rigondeaux critics call him boring, if he were to change his style, and throw more punches then his defense would suffer, and this would increase his chances of getting knocked out against higher level opponents, (if there is one weakness he has, it is his chin).

Sure he would be in more entertaining fights, but he may well be a loser in these fights, and thus criticised for not sticking to his slick boxing, so its a lose - lose situation.

The Cuban fighter, who defected from his home country to turn pro in 2009, does not like losing, he has been a winner his whole life, he should not jeopardise his flawless professional record to satisfy blood-thirsty viewers and commentators.

If they want to see all out wars, then tune into the likes of Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado, however, if they wish to see what it takes to go undefeated in the sport, they best start watching Rigondeaux and Mayweather.

Outside the ring, in terms of basic human instinct, it makes sense for someone to avoid punches, the longevity of a fighters career is often determined by how many punches they take - which is a testament to Floyd Mayweather's style of fighting, he has been at the top of the game for so long, because he doesn't get involved in wars of attrition. When 'Money' steps into the ring, he barely seems out of breath, he makes it look easy. Easy fights equal a long career.

It is unfortunate he cannot speak English, as this also limits his marketability. Floyd Mayweather is perceived to be boring inside the ring, but he is box-office viewing outside it, with his flamboyant lifestyle and trash talking behaviour.

Many will never be able to appreciate Guillermo Rigondeaux's style of fighting, this is understandable, boxing is a subtle sport, where the most important aspects of the game are those which can't be seen to the casual observer. Rigondeaux has mastered the sport, and can dominate elite level fighters like Donaire, fighting in a box and move fashion.

It may not entertain the fans, but it certainly will increase his chances of winning his fights, for a man who has been winning gold medals and world title belts all his life, I think he cares more about the latter.


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