Last night at the Radio City Hall in New York City, newly crowned champion Guillermo Rigondeaux showed the boxing world why he deserved to be in the ring with the best by living up to the hype that has surrounded him for so many years. He did this, by defeating Nonito Donaire, a man that hadn’t lost in 12 years, and a man that was ranked top five on almost every pound for pound list in boxing. Rigondeaux did it with ease, making one of boxing star’s look like he didn’t even belong in the ring with him. Usually, to beat someone of Donaire’s stature is a straight shot to gain fans, and to have the public itching to see more. But, by looking at the reactions to last night’s hyped up event, it would seem that the total opposite has happened. The term ‘boring’ has been linked to last night’s fight and the excitement to see the return of Rigondeaux, hasn’t really been brought up by anyone.
Rigondeaux controlled Donaire for most of the fight, even after being knocked down in the tenth. However the official judges didn’t see it as much of a landslide as some, and scores were varied throughout much of the media. What Rigondeaux did to Donaire last night was not just impressive, it was amazing. So why the negative feedback from the fans? Why the close scores from some people and dominate ones from the other? Well it’s quite simple. Action. To be quite honest, this is boxing. People want to see action, they want to see a brawl, they want to see a knockout. Yes, boxing fans could appreciate what Rigondeaux did last night. His speed, his defense, his power, were all sensational. He put on a boxing clinic, and if his name was Floyd Mayweather, it might have been more acceptable. But, his name is
Guillermo Rigondeaux, and unless you have built the name that Mayweather has done over the years, it’s not acceptable to the casual fans. Even to the boxing fans. By choosing to back up a lot, and not through many punches when he did it, the fans and judges saw him as a runner, and therefore they were not giving him rounds that many people thought were his.
Was there something wrong with the way Rigondeaux fought? No. Not to people who know the sport. He had a game plan and had to stick with it to win. Had he removed himself from his strategy and tried to fight Donaire in an exciting brawl, he could have probably got knocked out. The tenth round knockdown was an example of what happens when you get careless with someone like Donaire. Rigondeaux stuck to his masterful plan and it worked. It worked well. And give him credit. Donaire tried to attack him in the first two rounds and Rigondeaux’s power scared him away, perhaps enough so that Donaire didn’t want to attack him a lot after that, as he spent most of the fight after the first two rounds stalking Rigondeaux around the ring but timid to engage.
It was a fight that many called. It was known that it would be a boring fight between two counter punchers. It was known that the action would be limited but that there would be some exciting moments, even perhaps a knockdown. That is the strangest part of it all. Even though it was predicted, people are still mad about it? So much so that all the heat as fallen on Rigondeaux, calling him boring and not exciting. Despite winning the fight Rigondeaux is not getting the credit he expected.
The real question here though, is what does the future hold for the best amateur in boxing to ever exist. Where does Rigondeaux go from here? Well, if there’s one thing we know about boxing, it’s that you are only as good as your last fight. Just ask Timothy Bradley, who one year ago was bashed by everyone for his performance against Manny Pacquiao, and now he’s a star that everyone is waiting to see get back into the ring after a fight of the year performance against Ruslan Provodnikov. People will watch Rigondeaux again, and if the matchup is good and exciting, everyone’s opinions will change. But it’s up to Rigondeaux to make that happen. In truth, despite beating a true champion and warrior with ease, he still has much to prove to the fans. He has to prove that he is someone that people want to watch.
Rigondeaux may not ever be a PPV star, but it won’t be just because of his style. It would be because of his personality, and lack of appeal to casual fans. It’s not his fault he is who he is. It takes a special type of person to be a superstar. The contradiction to this is that Rigondeaux has the knockout power to become someone like Pacquiao. Everyone knows that great knockouts gain popularity, however it’s Rigondeaux’s defense first style that ruins this for him. If he’s not going to have Mayweather’s mouth or personality, then he has to knock people out. And if Rigondeaux wants to be a PPV superstar in boxing, he’s going to need to put his punching power first, and his defense second. Last night he didn’t do that, and he paid for it despite winning a dominate performance. Only the future knows what is in store for this young boxing sensation, but if one had to guess, it would seem that he will be a great fighter that wins a lot of bouts, but never gets the recognition to go beyond fighting a HBO main event, and that might actually be good enough for him but it would be disappointing to a lot of people, that think, and know, that Rigondeaux’s boxing skills are worthy of PPV recognition.