Guillermo Rigondeaux, Re, Me

By Robert Ecksel on July 13, 2013
Guillermo Rigondeaux, Re, Me
Max Kellerman got it right: "Is there no place in the world for a brilliant boxing exhibition?"


The sport is called boxing. It isn’t called knockout. In centuries gone by, the glove game was also called the “sweet science of bruising” and the “gentlemanly art of self defense.” Those are of course just words, which can instruct as well as deflect, and like all words have meaning only insofar as we allow them to have meaning. But the object of boxing was, at least until fairly recently, to hit and not get hit. That is the essence of the sport. And when that essence is turned on its head to satisfy the bloodlust of casual fans, the same fans for whom UFC is just a click away, not only does boxing suffer, but the meaning of boxing suffers as well.

Dumbing down isn’t some rarified concept. Dumbing down isn’t a paranoid fantasy. It’s a core reality, a systemic vision implemented by those who wish to remain in power. Boxing isn’t the only activity negatively affected by social engineering; nor is it the most significant. But boxing is much of what we’re about and while we love knockouts, we also mourn its retreat from eloquence to raw brutality.

WBA/WBO super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux is the latest and greatest casualty of the know-nothingism pervading the sweet science. His defeat of pound-for-pound stalwart Nonito Donaire at Radio City Music Hall last April was a thing to behold. But no sooner was the paint dry on his fistic masterpiece then he was derided as being “boring.”

Not surprisingly, it was ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael who first leveled the charge. Whatever his influence, it does not change the fact that he has never stepped through the ropes, has never been punched in the face. There are some who would like nothing better than to remedy that situation, but I don’t include myself among them. Not every critic needs to engage in that which he is critiquing. Rafael can be forgiven for having never written a memorable sentence; he is not alone. Less forgivable is his betrayal of his followers by contributing to their ignorance.

But even knowledgeable people whose opinions I respect have parroted Rafael’s assessment. Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who is not only a promoter but a salesman, said after Rigo embarrassed Donaire, “It was not a very engaging fight. If Rigondeaux would stand and fight, [he] has a lot of power and a lot of skills, but running the way he does really makes it not a watchable fight.”

I thought the fight was as watchable as it was engaging. How often does one get a chance to watch a genuine master ply his art? Arum knows how accomplished Rigondeaux is. But he also knows boxing’s audience, just as HBO knows boxing’s audience, and that audience, however fickle and in the dark, must be satisfied. The customer after all is always right.

“Every time I mention [Rigondeaux to HBO],” said Arum, “they throw up.”

It’s not the food in the HBO commissary that makes those to whom Arum spoke sick to the stomach. I’m not even sure it’s Rigondeaux. It may simply be the result of drinking the Kool-Aid.

Others, unfortunately, have also jumped on the Rigondeaux-is-boring bandwagon. The normally levelheaded Larry Merchant, for one, somewhat alarmingly applauded HBO’s decision.

“I congratulate them,” he told BoxingScene.com. “Rigondeaux is a beautiful boxer but this is prize fighting and prize fighting is entertainment. If you can’t make the people want to come back and see you, it’s just like going to a restaurant; they don’t feed you well, you don’t come back. They feed you well, you come back. And he’s got to know that this is a professional game and it’s not an amateur game.”

That’s an interesting analogy. Comparing prize fighting to going to a restaurant makes sense, especially in light of HBO throwing up at the mere mention of Rigondeaux’s name. But if we take a step back and look objectively at the culinary landscape, it’s McDonald’s—purveyors of pink slime and what might possibly be horse meat—that is the most popular “restaurant” on the planet. Just because people “come back” doesn’t speak to the quality of the food. It’s an indication of what people don’t know, what they will endure, and a willingness to put anything in their mouth, no matter unsatisfying or compromised.

Jim Lampley on the latest edition of The Fight Game also ridiculed Rigondeaux. He stuck to the party line, repeating the same Rigondeaux-is-boring tropes as were voiced earlier. By contrast, Max Kellerman on the same show came off as sane and well informed.

“The people I grew up watching fights with,” Der Max said, “all of us right now are compelled to watch Rigondeaux whenever he fights because he’s the best in the world at what he does. He just shut out a dominant, three-division champion.

“Is there no place in the world for a brilliant boxing exhibition?”

Kellerman asked the right question. Rigondeaux defeated Donaire and made it look easy. That ought to count for something. He embodies elegance in boxing. He’s Mozart of the squared circle, but some will always prefer the bombast of Tchaikovsky, or the oompah of John Philip Sousa.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Donaire vs Rigondeaux



Mozart, Quartet K.421 in D Minor - 3. Menuetto and Trio. Allegretto



1812 Overture (the dramatic part)



The Thunderer by John Philip Sousa (American military march/marche militaire américaine)



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  1. Welly 09:46am, 12/17/2013

    Was anyone else imsresped by Mike Jones last weekend? I dunno I never saw anything in him but he showed a lot in that last fight. He was throwing with volume and nice crisp punches in the 12th round of a fast paced fight. He’s a monster for 147 n has a nice jab, good power. Very good chin n he like a true philly fighter he’s got no bitch in him n likes to fight. After Berto waxes Ortiz n maybe retires him then that would def be a fight I’d like to watch Berto vs Jones

  2. The Traveling Man 05:37pm, 07/18/2013

    Lou, the fans would pay to see Floyd fight you.

  3. Lou 01:00pm, 07/18/2013

    Traveling man, sure Floyd is doing very big numbers, lets say a Steve Forbes like boxer type comes along, I am sure the Floyd numbers wouldn’t be huge.  Floyd needs a “name opponent” to draw, otherwise nothing, you’ll be able to hear crickets in the arena.  Here is an example do you think HBO or SHOWTIME, would buy or put on Floyd vs a Matthew Hatton, look and fight a like, even if he was undefeated I think not.
    I hear what you say about the amazing skills senor Rigondeaux has yes he is gifted, but the one thing he lacks and Nonito has somewhat, is the ability to put butts in seats.  The average fan doesn’t care about the beautiful moves they want action and that is what stays in their minds.  I believe maybe you should watch amateur boxing cos that’s where boxing skill rules, just a suggestion.

  4. The Travelling Man 11:47am, 07/18/2013

    tuxtucis , OF COURSE Rigondeaux is not Mayweather, THE POINT IS THEY ARE BOTH DEFENSIVE MASTERS, BUT ONE IS COMPELLING AND THE OTHER IS NOT. THUS, THE INCONGRUITY.

  5. tuxtucis 11:31am, 07/18/2013

    Rigondeaux is not Mayweather…Floyd is far more various in defense and in attack than the Cuban…Rigondeaux is one armed, relies only in left hand and never lost amateur’s tendency to single punch instead of combinations…Probably is more powerful than Mayweather, specially with bodyshots, that’s why Donaire was so careful…

  6. The Travelling Man 11:26am, 07/18/2013

    The Incongruity of Guillermo Rigondeaux :


    “The people I grew up watching fights with…are compelled to watch Rigondeaux whenever he fights because he’s the best in the world at what he does. He just shut out a dominant, three-division champion.”—Max Kellerman


    “The harsh truth Rigondeaux now faces is, despite all of his wondrous skill, he is just another nameless champion hoping to catch his big break, done in by the reality that the large majority of fans who watch fights on television want to see fights, not defensive genius.”—Kevin Iole (Yahoo)


    “…anyone who has ever put on the gloves can see the beauty in Rigo’s science.”—Gordon Marino


    That is all—I stopped at a service station to water up and use the laptop. Now back on the road again.

  7. The Travelling Man 11:24am, 07/18/2013

    “The push for entertaining incompetence will only dumb down the sport and damage the long-term product. Boxing is called the sweet science for a reason. People need to understand that well-trained, well-prepared fighters make for entertaining scraps. Mismatches and dull, plodding snoozers only happen when just one of the two boxers actually knows how to fight like a professional.”


    The metamorphoses to a UFC/MMA brand of blood and guts violence seems to have started. When Mayweather retires, will Ward and Rigo be the odd men out?

  8. The Travelling Man 11:23am, 07/18/2013

    Unfortunately for Guillermo Rigondeaux, the harsh truth may be best expressed buy Larry Merchant when he says …“Rigondeaux is a beautiful boxer but this is prize fighting and prize fighting is entertainment…And he’s got to know that this is a professional game and it’s not an amateur game.” Others have quickly joined (piled on) the Rigondeaux-is-boring parade, but remain connoisseurs of Mayweather’s similar style.

  9. The Travelling Man 11:22am, 07/18/2013

    Lou, the purist looks for artistry and innovation in boxing. He looks for creative ways in which to “hit and not get hit”. It’s not just about punches — it’s about what happens between punches. The purist looks for ring generalship, footwork, feinting, and precision. Purists love watching fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pernell Whitaker… because they display craftsmanship. Though boxing is a violent sport, to the purist, it is artful violence—


    Aside from Andre Ward, “Money” Mayweather continues to do it his way, and his way is a safety first one in which he combines flawless tactical execution, genius-level ring IQ, and technique with an uncanny ability to adapt to changing circumstances. And while doing this, he seeks creative ways to avoid being hit, yet he is willing to stand in the pocket and beat up his opponent with punishing leads and jarring uppercuts.


    The incongruity here is that Floyd Mayweather continues to break PPV records and continues to be the most successful and most media-covered fighter of this or any other era, but like Rigo, is a boxer who uses ring smarts and defense as his major weapons. Yet Floyd, perhaps because of his out-of-the-ring persona, is a compelling enough personality to please all kinds of fans. And for those pundits who want all violence and no science in boxing, they will not get that from Floyd because like Sinatra, he will do it his way.

  10. Lou 08:27am, 07/18/2013

    The traveling man, you seem to know a lot why is it then that Rigo and most other Cuban fighters can draw enough fans to fill up the couch in their own house.  The paying fan’s and the media outlets who cater to viewing fans, and promoters who cater to paying fans have voted, Rigo just doesn’t sell tickets and bring in viewers.  You non-believers out there check out the actual fans who pay to see senor Rigo in “action”, if he doesn’t have a name opponent like that stinkin’ Donaire who actually gave Rigo a chance to make some real money, see if you and other traveling men, and like minded “fan’s”, will pay to see Rigo perform.  Fan’s vote with their presence in front of the tube or at the arena.  Me I would rather sit on my porch and have a choice of watching paint dry or grass grow or watch Rigo give another brilliant performance, hmmm its a hard choice, but watching paint dry and grass grow has a certain excitement to it, while Rigo has none, but hey to each his own.

  11. Clarence George 07:47am, 07/18/2013

    A gracious invitation, but I’m off to the Hallo Berlin cart for Wurst.

  12. The Traveling Man 07:41am, 07/18/2013

    Naw, just some grits with butter and red eye and maybe a mess of eggs. Actually, I’ve invited some like-minded types like Robert Ecksel, raxman, Andres, AKT, tuxtucis, Paul, Stephanie, Glen Bush, Walter Wojtowicz, Leighton, Gordon Marino and Adrienne. You can join us.
    tuxtucis says you can sidle up next to him…lol

  13. Clarence George 07:34am, 07/18/2013

    Given the Almira Gulch tut-tutting, I assume the “repast” will consist of gruel.

  14. The Traveling Man 07:23am, 07/18/2013

    Firstly, secondly, and lastly, anyone who says “While I respect the ring brilliance of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Guillermo Rigondeaux, I’d rather watch, well, badminton than see either of them fight, using the term loosely in their case,” clearly has issues when it comes to understanding the “Sweet Science.” Indeed, that comment says it all and reveals where you are coming from—if not far more.


    The ref says, “Protect yourself at all times.” Not-so-vicious Victor Ortiz fails to do this and is coldcocked by a “blow-landing” Mayweather. That’s boring?


    I rest my case. I must now stop at the upcoming diner on the highway for some American repast.

  15. Clarence George 06:57am, 07/18/2013

    First, I don’t share your low opinion of Greisman or, by implication, of “The Ring,” for which he writes on a regular basis.  In any event, the comment I quoted is downright inarguable, not to mention admirably pithy.

    Second, it’s absurd to contend that those who expect and want something more from boxing than defensive technique are in some way guilty of “dumbing down” the sport.

    Third, the issue isn’t at all Donaire’s abysmal performance against Rigondeaux, but whether or not defensive technicians make for good boxing and good entertainment.  There are clearly two schools of thought, and I’m an alumnus of the one that teaches that they generally don’t.

  16. The Traveling Man 06:19am, 07/18/2013

    Excuse me, but David Greisman doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. While not every critic needs to engage in that which he is critiquing, in his case he knows as much about boxing as I know about badminton and that’s nothing. If you are going to quote someone, at least avoid Boxingscene. Try Lampley, Merchant, Iole, or Fat Dan Rafael all of whom have jumped on the “Rigo-is-boring bandwagon. And all of whom are helping to dumb down boxing without even realizing that they are doing it. The guy who should be criticized here is Donaire who could not deal with Rigor’s skills and ended up stinking out the hall. Guerrero was clueless on how to cut off the ring on Mayweather and got schooled. It takes two to tango.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

  17. Clarence George 05:54am, 07/18/2013

    I, too, could do without Donaire’s bloviating.  In fact, I’ll take this opportunity to say that I’m not a fan, and am convinced that Pancho Villa would have taken him to school.  Still, he has a point.  Boxing is a spectator sport, which means it’s entertainment.  Rigondeaux would be well-advised to keep that in mind.  As David Greisman points out:  “It’s not just about the boxing.  It’s about the box office.”

  18. The Traveling Man 05:32am, 07/18/2013

    “Losing so easily, so completely should’ve been a humbling experience for the former three-division world champ, but it doesn’t seem to have even caused a minor dent in Donaire’s growing ego.”

    As for those who prefer a blood and guts fight, but despise UFC, they need to get their logic straight. The continual trend toward brawls can only end up in the UFC’s lap. This is part of the dumbing down process of boxing fans and it’s like cutting your nose off to spite your face.

    Max Kellerman has this debate right.

  19. Robert Ecksel 04:54am, 07/18/2013

    Rather than learn fundamentals like cutting off the ring and fighting inside, Donaire has decided to lecture Rigondeaux. “This sport is about entertainment as much as anything,” he told RingTV. “I had to change my style in order to get on television. I’m better as a boxer, but it was only when I started knocking guys out that I started getting on HBO. It’s the reason why a guy like Arturo Gatti was on HBO for pretty much his whole career. He wasn’t the best fighter in the world, but nobody was as entertaining as he was.”

    Gatti was entertaining. He fought the way he fought and paid a heavy price. Everyone likes a demolition derby, but not everyone mistakes it for the sweet science. Nobody predicted a long and healthy life for Gatti and they were right. All those shots to the head, however entertaining, couldn’t have helped.

  20. Clarence George 01:44am, 07/18/2013

    Lou:  Ha!  Well, I guess a segment of boxing fans; anyway, readers of RingTV.  But I’m with you and the 44% who consider Rigondeaux an overdose of ZzzQuil.  I reported the tentative poll results only out of the goodness of my heart.  After all, the pearl clutchers who like their Sweet Science a tad less vigorous than synchronized swimming are in desperate need of our kindness, are they not?

  21. Lou Mesorana 08:26pm, 07/17/2013

    Who is voting Rigondeaux has scored more knockouts in the audience by putting many to sleep with his brilliant boxing skills.  Please tell me who is voting cos they sure don’t pay or even watch his “fights”, so pray tell who is voting?

  22. Clarence George 06:57pm, 07/17/2013

    According to RingTV’s ongoing poll, 56% of respondents disagree with HBO not televising Rigondeaux because of his “cautious fighting style,” while 44% agree.

  23. raxman 04:23pm, 07/16/2013

    I like you Irish!! you’re an evil trouble making son of a bitch but I like you all the same!

  24. Andres 12:05pm, 07/16/2013

    If boxing were a “spectator sport”, then, judging by blogs like this one, Rigondeaux wouldn’t have any issues with HBO because most appreciate the Rigo’s caliber and exceptional skills.

  25. AKT 09:23am, 07/16/2013

    Once again,  Robert Ecksel brings to the fore what needs to be said. This is something that I believe a lot more boxing writers, journalists, commentators need to emphasize. The exact thing that boxing is about - hitting and not getting hit. It’s akin to going to a soccer match but seeking out the fouls made because it’s fun to see a player yelp in pain as he goes down (sadly, this is exactly the scenario in Canada with Ice-Hockey. The fans are more excited about the fights that break out in matches).

    I think it has a lot to do with a lot of people never having had a pair of gloves put on. It takes someone attempting something at least once, to know how difficult/easy it is. Only then can they appreciate fully what the professionals do, but make look easy.

  26. Pete The Sneak 07:22am, 07/16/2013

    Nice article Mr. Editor…I have to chime in that watching Rigo Box Donaire’s ears off was fascinating. I mean, I’m with Kellerman here. Rigo beat a pound for pound fighter in Donaire, and did so in absolute convincing fashion. Donaire, who is one of the more agressive fighters in the business, could not pull the trigger in the beginning of the fight, and then towards the end of it did not want to pull it. This was all due to Rigo’s incredible boxing ability and his hard counter punching, which had Nonito in full defensive mode. So if Rigo did all that by ‘running,’ then heck he can run every fight from here on in, but I’m watching….Also, as far as my boy ‘Irish Frankie’ (whom I always look forward to see post), you forgot to mention another guy I know you hate (or is it me who hates him..not sure anymore..) that you watch just to get beat. Bernard “The Execlutchinor” Hopkins…Peace.

  27. tuxtucis 02:40pm, 07/15/2013

    I would have preferred to not hurt anyone and now I don’t like the way i used to say what I think: I totally disagree with you, and many thinks same way.

  28. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:07pm, 07/15/2013

    Tuxtucis-Sorry if I offended your sensibilities… when I posted those remarks I had just washed down my greasy burnt bacon and egg sandwich with two Dos Equis Ambers and I guess I was feeling kind of frisky. However, I did preface my comments by stating that I was plain and simply a fan which means that I am anything but objective when it comes to boxing and especially the fighters who put it all on the line when they enter the ring. Which reminds me….I don’t like Mundine, Chavez Jr., or JMM very much for that matter….oops!...there I go again!

  29. Clarence George 11:14am, 07/15/2013

    Jeez, Tuxtucis!

    Irish doesn’t need me to defend him, so I won’t.  But I’ll say this much, if I may:  Offering one’s opinions on the Sweet Science isn’t the same as vying for a win in a popularity contest…nor should it be.  That said:  I like Irish, I like what he says, and I’m quite sure I’m not the only one…not that it would matter if I were.

  30. Lou Mesorana 10:32am, 07/15/2013

    I bet if you ask European boxing fans if they think Rigondeaux is boring they will over whelming vote NO!.  It’s just too bad that the people who love a master at work, like Rigondeaux don’t buy tickets for his fights.  This is professional boxing,  Like it or not on this side of the ocean we are crude and love a good “fight” not a superb boxing match between to master boxers like Rigondeaux.  Why doesn’t Rigondeaux go on the road Europeans would love him, why not consider Japan, China, and Dubai, sometimes you have to think out of the box. 
    Cubans for the most part are not appreciated in the U.S it’s too bad really but such is reality.

  31. tuxtucis 09:38am, 07/15/2013

    @IrishFrankie Crawford: I don’t like you, I like nothing you say, and I don’t think to be alone here…

  32. Clarence George 07:43am, 07/15/2013

    Laughing out loud over here.

    Couldn’t have put it better meself, Irish, me auld warrior…and I didn’t.

  33. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:17am, 07/15/2013

    Hey…I’m a fan plain and simple and here’s what I’m thinking…I don’t like Rigondeaux…I don’t like his style….I don’t like his attitude…I don’t like his face….IMO there’s only one reason to watch fighters like Rigondeaux, Broner, Gamboa, and yes Mayweather and that’s to see them get beat..

  34. Paul 12:51am, 07/15/2013

    MMA is old news. It was shocking in the late 90s. If you want to get a good grip on violence in today’s age, look (for example) at WorldStartHiphop.com. A website which features many fight videos. Videos of people being assaulted, fighting over nothing, women being knocked out cold by men, their heads hitting the concrete. This new level of real documented violence is taking over now, and ironically, even the KO in boxing seems tame compared to this stuff. So what I mean is, yes, you’re right, and in the long term we’re totally f**ked it would seem. Maybe the peak of evolution has occured and we truly are on a long slippery slope back to bashing each others heads in for banana tree territory

  35. nicolas 08:48pm, 07/14/2013

    Interestingly in arguments by some at HBO have gone on way before. I remember that in the early 60’s that Nat Fleischer was criticizing television for taking the art out boxing and wanting the sport to be more “TV friendly” by showing fighters who were all action slam bang. I remember the early 80’s, the Eusebio Pedroza - Bernard Taylor fight for the WBA featherweight title, and the announcers there, I think on ABC after Howard Cosell quit announcing pro fights, that the fight was boring, though at the time I did not think so as the fight was very close. (Final verdict a draw). Also in the early 90’s, Ring Magazine of all people I believe, saying that they could not figure out why Henry Maske was so popular in Germany, when his fights were not so exciting. Well whoever wrote that article, showed his ignorance by not realizing that Germany had not had a boxer like him since the Schmeling years, who was that good.

  36. Stephanie 02:50pm, 07/14/2013

    Boxing is like jazz, the better it gets, the less people appreciate it. (George Foreman)

    Enjoyed the article as much as the comments. Thanks

  37. Ted 11:12am, 07/14/2013

    “The skills pay the bills.”

  38. tuxtucis 11:08am, 07/14/2013

    I always thought that is wrong to rate fights like Ward-Gatti as great fights…those are amusing fights just for the reasons they’re not great fights…

  39. Glen Bush 07:30am, 07/14/2013

    Well, Mr. Ecksel, I agree with you.  Rig was wonderful in his bout with Donaire.  I’m a Donaire fan, but I really enjoy the beauty, smoothness, and flow of Rig.  As Mayweather likes to say about his fights, it’s all about hitting and not getting hit.  And, as you point out, Max K also enjoys the sweet science.  The toe-to-toe slugfest is fun, like a Rios-Alvardo fight, but the Truth, the Beauty, has been and will always be boxing, not slugging.

  40. Walter Wojtowicz 09:09pm, 07/13/2013

    @ Gordon & Ted:  I had no idea that to a small degree the University system has picked up boxing again.  I googled it and in 1976 the National Collegiate Boxing Association was formed after the NCAA abolished the sport in ‘60.  There is enough participation for three conferences.. Eastern - Midwest - Farwest.  It appears the Military Academies dominate.  That is good news.  Now if there could somehow be a resurgence in high schools.  Good stuff.

  41. raxman 08:25pm, 07/13/2013

    leighton - re your mma comments - i agree a knowledge of mat work ie wrestling and grappling, would make it more interesting - i don’t have that knowledge but i often say, (when dismissing mma) that if i had that knowledge watching two men roll around on the ground for a full 5 minute round could be entertaining. having said that i do have that level of understanding when it comes to boxing and as such can watch master boxers feint, move and counter for 12 rounds without labelling it boring. so i guess it certainly comes down to a level of knowledge of a thing - and i guess the masses get from mma, and are searching for in boxing, what they got from tyson in the 80’s - brutality and base level excitement.
    leighton you also touched on another point i’ve given thought to - your reference to only watching high level mma fights. this is where the ufc have been brilliant. the majority of there tv broadcast are pre record compilations - they pick the best fights and only show them - the boring ones are never seen. it is only when they have the best fighting the best on their ppv shows that the fights go out live; and in those circumstances its a safe bet that the fights will be of an entertaining nature - also they match make very well. UFC, without having the problem of a boxing civil war like that between GB and TR means their civil hands remain clean, their cards down and dirty

  42. raxman 08:09pm, 07/13/2013

    couldn’t put my own thoughts into better words. i hate, absolutely hate this label of running put on outside boxers. running is what oscar did in those last rounds vs tito. running is moving around and refusing to engage unless cornered and then just pot shotting and/or tying up. moving around the outside hitting and moving and hitting again isn’t running. a great example of the difference between running and outside boxing can be shown using one fighter: andre dirrell. Dirrell vs Froch was Dirrell running. Dirrell vs Abraham was Dirrell boxing.

  43. Leighton 04:47pm, 07/13/2013

    One of my favorite things to do is watch a craftsman at work. Even if I don’t understand what he’s doing or particularly enjoy, I love to see the experience and creativity of a master artist displaying excellence in his field. Boxing is split into three thirds: one-third lives to see the blacksmith effectively work steel, whether it be by force or finesse, and the other two-thirds hang around to see if he’ll burn himself.

    People complain about Rigondeaux because he chooses when to engage. He’d circle for a whole round without throwing a punch if he couldn’t find the angle. But he always does - even if it takes him thirty seconds to a minute - and when he does, he lays on fast, hard shots (thrown with malicious intent; these aren’t amateur punches!) before exiting with more beautiful footwork. If his opponent forces him inside, Rigo clinches immediately and effectively, putting himself in a position where he drains the opponent rather than allowing himself to be overpowered. He does everything correctly. It may be less dramatic than a battle between two toe-to-toe warriors, but it’s no less entertaining. One can enjoy great symphonies and quiet chamber music in equal measure.

    On the subject of MMA, the reason the stand-up combat looks so bad (and, for the most part, it is) is because most good boxers and kickboxers become boxers and kickboxers rather than mixed martial artists. They make better pay that way. The wrestlers, grapplers and B/C-level boxers/kickboxers take up MMA because it’s the only way they can make money. It has nothing to do with the sport itself. If you understand and appreciate the finer points of grappling or only watch high-level bouts, it can just as entertaining and stimulating as boxing.

  44. Ted 02:21pm, 07/13/2013

    Gordon, but not as a sanctioned NCAA sport? I know Nevada has a team and several others. But it’s not like the old days of Wisconsin, MSU, San Jose and Idaho State—not by a long shot. And those were the days.

  45. Gordon Marino 02:16pm, 07/13/2013

    Walter,
    Very well put - especially your zinger about the customer not always being right.
    Just one thing, college boxing has been back for a while - never be what it was in the 50’s but it is cooking.

  46. Walter Wojtowicz 01:24pm, 07/13/2013

    I watched that fight (Rigondeaux-Donaire) in the company of a few friends all of whom had boxed to some degree as young men and/or grew up watching the sport.  Each of us can be considered true boxing enthusiasts - respectful, appreciative fans.  And after it ended we could only come up with one word each repeated simultaneously, “wow, that was fucking great”.  Great, fun and enjoyable (in reference to Rigo’s performance).  Regardless what the promoters, unqualified commentators, and networks might say a well boxed contest is good entertainment.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of those paying to watch a fight or in the above referenced fight (Rigondeaux/Donaire) don’t truly have an appreciation or understanding what they are watching.  A great piece of advice was given to me early in my professional career and that was, “kid, so you know the customer is not always right but we have to give them what they want if they got the money to pay for it.” Fair enough I guess but for the above announcers/commentators to denounce such a talented athlete as Rigondeaux is just ignorant.  I truly believe the problem lies in the fact that those who are involved in boxing today have not and will not invest the time, energy and money needed to develop a community of true fans.  Like exist in other sports. Boxing has all but disappeared in our schools, park districts, community centers, and after a tragic death in 1960 our universities.  Without a population of young kids who eventually grow up to be consumers and fans our sport will rely solely on the perceived fun of watching two guys kill each other.  And, no argument there is no short supply of people willing to pay good money to see others maul each other.  Or, maybe morons like Rafael and Lampley want it this way.. If we ever did have a truly knowledgeable fan community we might demand a more informed and talented analysis from those commentating.

  47. Ted 01:12pm, 07/13/2013

    Adrienne HAS THE BEAT

  48. Adrienne 01:11pm, 07/13/2013

    A great article well written.
    I too enjoy Watching Rigondeaux a true boxer with exceptional skills.

  49. Ted 12:47pm, 07/13/2013

    I will add that I’d rather watch Floyd open up his tool box and choose accordingly much like a surgeon picks out his instruments and then starts using the right tool for the right occasion with precision execution. What’s more, if his opponent creates an issue, he will adjust and adapt and respond accordingly. Watching sharp lead rights, and his ability to deflect punches is pure beauty He is today’s most brilliant ring technician. What’s not to like?

    Rigo is this as well, but I sense he has a more malevolent disposition and I saw that in the last round of his fight with Donaire when he showed Nonito that he had the offense to finish him if that’s what he wanted.

    That’s is all from me, but interesting blog—thought provoking on an old subject with new boxing characters.

  50. Ted 12:39pm, 07/13/2013

    Good point, Gordon. Lara is a bit like that. Many of the eastern Euros (but not all) fight to win.

    In Latin American countries, I think you see fighters who are trained to be crowd pleasers. Maybe. But I too could be out of my league here.

  51. gordon marino 12:35pm, 07/13/2013

    might be wrong here but I have the sense that these fighters with very long amateur careers don’t freak and get out of their game when the crowd moans for not seeing enough action/blood - these guys grow up with the idea that boxing is a sport - maybe even something you play - not a brawl.

  52. Ted 12:23pm, 07/13/2013

    GGG IS technically gifted in the area of offensive fighting—the perfect KILLING MACHINE. His style will attract fans faster than bees to honey.

    also Lucas Matthysse, Roman Gonzalez, JMM, Pacquiao, Mikey Garcia, Froch, and Rios.

    But Wlad, unlike his beat down brother,  takes a more cerebral approach to the game, breaking opponents apart with a battering ram of a jab and a rock-heavy right hook. Yet, more fans watch him (and Mayweather) than just about anyone else.

    It’s all boxing. And even Rigo has some fans,

  53. Ted the Bull 12:12pm, 07/13/2013

    A boxer’s aim is to concuss his or her opponent without doing permanent damage. At least that was what I was taught when I boxed in the 50’s You try to knock him out if the opportunity presents itself, but you are not in here to injure him. On the other hand, I never really listened to this and followed the practice that whatever it takes to win, that’s what you do. If practicing the finer points of the sweet science ala Floyd is what it takes, so be it. If brawling like Rios does it, so be it. If doing something in between like Pacquiao does, so be it. Whatever it takes because there is no such thing as a bad win. 

    Though many deny this, most boxers could care less what spectators think. Bradley might be the exception because he made up his mind that he would go toe to toe with the Russian and make the spectators satisfied with his performance. And he was successful.

    I’d watch Rigo and I’d watch Terrence Crawford—but I’d also watch Alvarado and Mike Mollo. It all comes under the umbrella of boxing and the stylist represent just one spoke, while the brawlers and crowd pleasers represent another. For me, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. I like it all.

    As for MMA, I like certain aspects of it. But that’s a discussion for another thread.

    Finally, the concept of punching Dan Rafael in the face is one that conjures up many thoughts.

  54. tuxtucis 12:01pm, 07/13/2013

    The match between Rigondeaux and Donaire was boring, but not only for Cuban boxer’s defensiveness, but for his power and offensive qualities too…Donaire never forced and never dared too much cause it knew he would have received worse beating than the one he had…

  55. gordon marino 11:49am, 07/13/2013

    with you 100 percent—anyone who has ever put on the gloves can see the beauty in Rigo’s science. It is boxing not a street fight. I always feel a lot of tension in Rigo’s fights because he is explosive and I’m also eager to find out what he will do when someone manages to stay on his chest.

  56. Clarence George 10:33am, 07/13/2013

    Ha!  Baited by the master.  All right, so much for my Mel Brooks impression.

    There are some notable exceptions—e.g., Pep—but I generally find it very difficult to correlate an exclusively defensive technician, regardless of his brilliance, with what I consider a boxer.  I have a higher opinion of those who excel both defensively and offensively, but I generally reserve my highest praise for sluggers and brawlers.

    Regarding it being a spectator sport…I would argue that a professional boxer’s primary obligation is to entertain; that’s what he’s paid to do.  And what’s entertaining about boxing is the use of moderately controlled and highly skilled violence.  If it’s so cerebral as to be barely distinguishable from chess, it’s not boxing.  And if it’s not boxing, it’s not entertaining.

    Does a fighter entertain at the risk of injury or even death?  Yes, he does.  But what is boxing at its most fundamental if not hitting and getting hit?  If he doesn’t want to do either, he should have become an accountant. 

    Let me be clear:  I don’t want to see any boxer suffer serious injury, let alone death; he should certainly protect himself.  But my point is that he’s not paid to protect himself…he’s paid to fight.

  57. Robert Ecksel 10:04am, 07/13/2013

    I was counting on you to disagree. Rigondeaux can no more be Brandon Rios than Brandon Rios can be Rigondeaux. Each of us is a prisoner of our own essential nature, in and out of the ring. If Rigondeaux can escape being Brandon Rios, why should he not, especially with a future looming? I agree that boxing is a spectator sport—for those of us who are spectators. But the terms are radically different for the participants. Pleased and/or displeased with this or that performance has little or nothing to do with it. There’s no time for such niceties when survival is the issue. Fighters are instructed to protect themselves at all times. They’re not instructed to satisfy each and every one of the millions that are watching them fight (as if that were even a remote possibility). Are we to dismiss Willie Pep, Nicolino Locche, Pernell Whitaker etc. because they didn’t take up a sledgehammer and start smashing? Boxing will be infinitely less interesting when we start burying the defensive geniuses.

  58. Clarence George 09:36am, 07/13/2013

    Cogently argued, of course, but I strongly disagree.

    I despise and detest MMA, a perversion and parody of the Sweet Science, barroom brawling elevated to sport.  And boxing is more than mere brutality; at its finest and best, it is truly poetry in motion.  I’ll go so far as to say that brilliant ring technicians are admirable and to be respected.  But if that’s all they are, whatever else they’re doing, they’re not boxing.  A boxer should protect himself at all times, as the ref says, but that doesn’t mean becoming a follower of Gandhi.  If I don’t want to see blows landed, I’ll watch badminton.

    While I respect the ring brilliance of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Guillermo Rigondeaux, I’d rather watch, well, badminton than see either of them fight, using the term loosely in their case.  Dripping water onto a stone, winning by attrition…hell, take up a sledgehammer and start smashing!

    Guys like Mayweather and Rigondeaux neither know nor care that boxing is a spectator sport.  Whatever else it is…it most definitely is that.

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