Showing methodical footwork, an appreciation of distance, a precise southpaw range-finder, a hard hooking lead, the odd hookercut here and there and occasional punches in bunches, Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux shut out Joseph Agbeko with unanimous 120-108 scores at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday, December 7.
Words: Tommy Barber – London
Photos: Chris Farina – Top Rank
It may not have satisfied the blood-thirst of fight fans still enjoying highlights of the two frontrunning candidates for fight of the year – Mike Alvarado vs Brandon Rios II and Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov – but Guillermo Rigondeaux‘s ability to outpoint Nonito Donaire last Saturday, April 13 provided a fine demonstration of the sweet science in action. Below, are the three photos that sum up the night’s work for the finely-skilled Cuban wizard.
Donaire had the fanbase, the punching power, the stature in the game to attract accolades naming him the heir to the throne vacated by countryman Manny Pacquiao but all that mattered not against Rigondeaux who used a combination of timing, maneuverability, ring smarts and defensive nous to frustrate and perplex one of the most heavily-promoted Top Rank-backed boxers.
According to punch stats released by HBO during their broadcast, Rigondeaux threw 396 shots and found success 33 percent of the time to land 129 times. All these statistics are greater than Nonito’s numbers who threw 352, landed 82 times to create a 23 percent success rate.
Compubox stats reveal a similar pattern and point to Rigondeaux being the far more effective fighter. Guillermo outlanded Donaire in an astonishing 11 rounds, with only the 10th round – where Rigondeaux suffered a knockdown – being the one Donaire was most successful in.
Donaire refused to accept defeat post-fight and between himself and promoter Bob Arum, a move north, to the 126lb division, looks likely. The excuses, though, perhaps discredit what is and should always be, a tactically astute victory for an athlete who made just his 12th appearance in the professional circuit. Rigondeaux linked up with his former amateur coach Pedro Diaz for his night in New York and the two, pictured below, stuck to a winning game-plan throughout the contest.
Alan Dawson – London
Nonito Donaire suffered a second career defeat at the hands of Guillermo Rigondeaux at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Saturday, April 13. In an unexciting yet tactical bout, Rigondeaux continually confounded Donaire with a technical potshot-and-move strategy that was upset in the tenth when the Cuban was knocked down. With victory, WBA super bantamweight belt holder Rigondeaux annexed the WBO world title.
Official verdict: Rigondeaux by way of UD (114-113, 115-112 and 116-111).
Both southpaw Rigondeaux and orthodox fighter Donaire maneuvered their feet into position to launch straight shots with their power mitt within the first minute of the opening round. Whilst their respective body languages lived up to their pre-fight promise that there would be bad intentions behind their respective strategies, there was little to separate the pugilists after three minutes of tentative, cerebral combat aside from one straight left shot from Guillermo that forced Nonito onto the back-foot.
In the second session, Rigondeaux strived to goad Donaire into action using a combination of feints and inviting footwork. Midway through the round, Rigo punched to the body, landed a combination upstairs and had one power punch blocked by a Donaire who was yet to find his rhythm despite scoring some distinctive marking over the eye/brow region of Rigondeaux.
Renowned trainer Robert Garcia barked Johnny Cash instructions during the third round, imploring his charge Donaire to “get rhythm!” to “get rhythm in front!” and “always on the jab!” While Donaire had managed to punch and box his way into the fight in the third, that rhythm that Garcia pined after proved hard for Donaire to find largely because of Rigondeaux’s evasive and intuitive movement.
Any success Donaire aimed to capitalise on in the fourth round was shut down by Rigondeaux with a counter-punching method. Donaire, the aggressor, continually attempted to find a way in with a crowd-pleasing attack while Rigondeaux was content boxing from mid-range and waiting to land one big shot – his straight left hand. Moments before the bell, a millisecond street fight broke out that began because of an accurate crack dispatched by Donaire.
In the fifth, ring general Donaire dictated the pace of the fight. While Nonito owned the central space of the ring, Rigondeaux danced… even sprinted, around the periphery. Even though Donaire possessed a pound-for-pound ranking and a 2012 trainer of the year winning coach in Robert Garcia, he did not target Guillermo’s body enough in order to slow the Cuban’s running. This allowed Rigo to box his fight, not Nonito’s.
In the sixth, Rigondeaux secured the round’s most meaningful punches with a body-bound then upstairs combination. The competitive and strategic encounter between the super bantamweight division’s two most well-known names was underlined by that two-punch move arguably winning Rigondeaux the round alone. Otherwise, there was little action.
Yes, the first half of the contest was epitomised by one-pace but that was something that threatened to change in the seventh round as Donaire, with his fast hands, cannoned a three-punch combo into Rigondeaux’s frame. However, that intention proved exclusive to the beginning of the stanza as, for the rest of the round, Rigondeaux swatted and parried punches away with his gloves in what had become a frustrating, chess-like affair for the spectator.
In the eight and ninth rounds, the pace of the fight continued to be dictated by the Cuban, whose refusal to engage with the Filipino Flash annoyed the sell-out New York crowd. While Guillermo allowed his fists to fly, most of his shots were blocked harmlessly by Donaire’s gloves.
“You gotta think about your family, about your baby,” said Garcia to Donaire moments before the tenth round. Robert, the sport’s fastest-rising elite-level trainer, used family as a source of motivation and it proved to be inspired as Donaire floored Rigondeaux by utilising a short-range left hand mere minutes after the speech. Rigo struggled to regain his composure, showed un-sturdy legs but had enough wherewithal to use the full space of the ring to his advantage.
Rigondeaux had settled down in the championship rounds and even hurt Donaire at the beginning of the final round. Donaire was largely forced to box one-handed for the last three minutes as he kept his right hand tight to his right eye… something that had been swelling profusely, perhaps due to a rogue thumbing early in the round.
When the bell signified the end of competition, Donaire received treatment for an eye appearing more grotesque by the second. Rigondeaux, conversely, mounted a neutral turnbuckle and saluted the East Coast fight fans convinced he had just secured himself the most momentous victory of his professional career to date.
“I prepared myself well. Everyone has their opinion, about my amateur background, but I proved myself [as a professional] today,” said Rigo to Top Rank TV after receiving a unanimous nod by the three judges. “Everybody talked about how Rigondeaux was going to lose today but I proved that I am the best 122lb fighter in the world. I’m here, ready to fight anybody. I don’t hide, I don’t duck!”
Rigondeaux moves to 12-0-0, 8ko with the win, while Donaire dropped to 31-2-0, 20ko.
Tyson Fury: ‘I pick Donaire. He’s just too classy and has the pro experience to back him up. Rigondeaux may be dangerous the first few rounds, but the longer the fight goes, the more that pro experience will show. This is not really a fight that I would bet on, it could be close.’
Alan Dawson – London
On Saturday, April 13 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, two-time Olympic gold medal winner Guillermo Rigondeaux intends on fighting fire with fire against the typically aggressive and knockout hungry Nonito Donaire. Regarded to be two of the three finest fighters the super bantamweight division has to offer, both boxers bring an alphabet title to duel, whilst the prestigious The Ring magazine belt will also be on the line.
“Nonito is a great tactician and has enormous power so I think it’s going to be an exciting fight,” said Guillermo (11-0-0, 8ko), ahead of fight night.
Donaire (31-1-0, 20ko) represents one of the few boxers analysts agree to be a consensus top five pound-for-pound professional. His victories over Vic Darchinyan, Wladimir Sidorenko, Fernando Montiel, Toshiaki Nishioka and, his most recent opponent, Jorge Arce, demonstrate his ability to retain his power despite traversing through the flyweight, bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions.
Against Rigondeaux, he also has a height and reach advantage but the Cuban – who linked up with his amateur mentor Pedro Diaz for this marquee showdown – believes the best strategy to combat Donaire’s thumping nature is to respond in kind.
“[Donaire] is a great boxer and a great technician. He is a boxer that acts on reaction. Action / reaction – he takes it from there. In the moment of the fight he reacts. He really has no strategy with the length of his arms. He reacts in the ring.
“I will try to engage more than I have in the past,” noted Guillermo. “I want to give the fans what they want to see. Nonito is an aggressive boxer and I will be coming for him. I expect the same from Nonito. I think there are going to be a lot of fireworks.”
On The Beak staff writer
Super bantamweight rivals and Top Rank stablemate fighters Nonito Donaire (31-1-0, 20ko) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0-0, 8ko) went face-to-face for the final time on Friday, April 12, one day prior to their world title unification bout at Radio City Music Hall, New York. Donaire, who weighed in at 121.6lbs, looked by far the taller, longer and rangier of the two while Guillermo, who scaled in at 121.5lbs, cut a far more muscular frame.
Alan Dawson – London
Cuban southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux produced masterfully outclassed Teon Kennedy on Saturday, June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as the 31-year-old, in his tenth professional fight, scored five knockdowns and a technical knockout victory in a power punch perfect performance. In unorthodox fashion, Rigo abandoned the jab and instead relied upon the incredible variety of ways he could land his left fist.
Official verdict: Rigondeaux by way of fifth round TKO.
The variety of Rigondeaux’s fistic weaponry was on display within the opening 90 seconds and involved particularly devastating straight left punches that continually buckled the knees of Kennedy. This, combined with uppercuts, body blows and left hooks countered over the right hand were all thrown at an astonishingly fast pace and ultimately proved too much for Kennedy to handle in the opening session. The challenger for Guillermo’s WBA super bantamweight world title belt even touched down on the canvas with a glove following an unanswered bombardment of shots but composed himself in order to hear the bell that closed round one.
Despite his technical prowess and amateur background, Rigondeaux did not operate behind the jab and, when Kennedy took a step forward, he was oft depleted of energy and confidence due to a precise left uppercut. In the final minute of the second stanza, Rigo twice decked Kennedy… the first (and second of the night) was caused by a crisp right hand while the next knockdown arrived mere moments later as Teon had no clear answer for the unrelenting accuracy of Guillermo’s fists.
Kennedy sharpened up his defences in the third round and was alert to Rigondeaux’s left hand. A boxer blessed with fine balance and a spatial appreciation inside the ring, Rigondeaux’s defensive capability perplexed Kennedy and, in the fourth, the Cuban could be seen slipping and sliding out of harm’s way. With a clean left straight landing flush on the chin, Kennedy was felled again in the fourth but protested the decision of the referee – Russell Mora – to administer a count as he claimed he simultaneously received a step on his foot.
At the beginning of the fifth round, Rigondeaux scored his fifth knockdown – again with a chin-bound fist – and while Kennedy did not appear truly hurt, the beatdown had been so dominant that Mora waved the bout off and awarded a technical knockout Rigondeaux’s way. With the resounding victory, Rigo upped his record to 10-0-0, 8ko, made a successful first defence of his world championship at 122lbs and, considering the headlines and buzz his triumph will create, could move closer to a fight of significance with fellow world titlist Nonito Donaire.
Words: Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Photos: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas
The four televised pay-per-view fighters competing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 9 all weighed-in yesterday but despite the appearances of Jesus Rojas, Jorge Arce, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Teon Kennedy, Mike Jones, Randall Bailey and Timothy Bradley, it was Manny Pacquiao who attracted raucous rock-star applause. Additionally, the Filipino was not fazed over the intimidation tactics employed by his challenger…
Out of the quartet of contests broadcast by HBO and it’s international brethren, only Jorge Arce’s ten round duel with Jesus Rojas (18-1-1, 13ko) is non-title. Arce, though, if successful, could land himself a prized shot at fast-rising Filipino fighter Nonito Donaire who has his own bout with Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7; a fight that will unify the WBO and IBF world titles.
Both Arce (60-6-2, 46ko) and Rojas were the only two fighters who failed to make weight as they came in 1.5lbs over the super bantamweight limit of 122lbs, however, the dust-up will go forth, leading one to presume this may have been contractually agreement.
In a bout that will have the vacant IBF welterweight world title belt on the line, Jones – a rangy 29-year-old from the historical boxing hotbed of Philadelphia – clashes with big-punching Bailey (42-7-0, 36ko). What could be more significant for Jones (26-0-0, 19ko), though, is that a strong performance could see him aligned with the winner of the Pacquiao and Bradley fight.
Contender Kennedy (17-1-2, 9ko) takes on Rigondeaux (9-0-0, 7ko) for the latter’s WBA super bantamweight world championship. While, on paper, it seems Rigo is the inexperienced of the two, the champion has huge amateur experience (over 400 fights) and is regarded to be one of the most aesthetically-pleasing boxers of the lighter weight classes.
Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38ko) and Bradley (28-0-0, 12ko) duke it out in the main event but Bradley believes Manny is not focussed, believes he’ll be the second fighter to defeat him on US terrain and even stared Pacquiao down at the weigh-in.
On The Beak – Admin
Teon Kennedy (17-1-2, 7ko) of Philadelphia, who challenges undefeated WBA bantamweight titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux (9-0-0, 7ko), of Cuba, on Saturday, June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley championship card, has had to overcome two fairly recent family life-shattering incidents that would have broken less-resolute fighters.
Late in 2009, Kennedy knocked out Francisco Rodriguez in the tenth round of their scheduled 12-round contest for the vacant USBA super bantamweight title. Kennedy’s elation at winning was short-circuited when Rodriguez collapsed in his corner, was rushed to the hospital and died of a brain injury two days later.
No one prepares a fighter for when the most tragic possible ending occurs in a fight: “When it first happened it was difficult, but as anyone in boxing knows that could happen,” said Kennedy, who was 13-0-1 and 23-years-old at the time. “It could happen to me. Sometimes I do still think about it, but I try not to dwell on it.”
Kennedy did not fight for six months, but he had the encouragement of his team as well as that of the Rodriguez family to get back into the ring.
He came back with three good wins, including a scintillating performance, a 12-round unanimous decision over then-undefeated prospect Julio Diaz, of New Brunswick.
The second life-altering incident occurred in mid 2011.
Kennedy was charged with a felony stemming from a shooting in Philadelphia. Those charges were later dropped, but it played on Kennedy’s mind as he prepared for a fight last August that, had he won, could have led to a match with undefeated Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba, in a world featherweight title fight.
He went through with the fight last August and lost his first bout as a pro, a 12-round decision to Alejandro Lopez, of Mexico, in a lacklustre performance: “The legal issues were definitely in my head,” Kennedy said.
“It’s hard to be falsely accused of something I did not do. That was probably the main reason I didn’t feel like myself.”
He put his first setback and his legal charges behind him and he got back in the gym quickly. Boxing experts weren’t sure if he’d rebound, but he turned in a strong performance in his most recent fight, a draw against the once-beaten Chris Martin, of Chula Vista, in January in Las Vegas. Many observers felt Kennedy, the aggressor for most of the fight, deserved the win.
Kennedy feels that he has come to grips with the arduous road he has had to travel the last several years.
“Everything bad is in the past now,” said Kennedy, who is looking to pull off the upset against the favored Rigondeaux. “I’m just focused on the fight. I’m still going to be aggressive.”
On The Beak – Admin
In a night of knockdowns and stoppages on ShoBox: The New Generation, Guillermo Rigondeaux won a world title in only his ninth professional fight by knocking out the defending WBA super bantamweight champion Rico Ramos in the sixth round. The co-feature resulted in a multiple knockdown thriller before Joel Diaz Jr ended the contest by scoring a TKO over Guy Robb in the seventh. In the opening bout of the night, super flyweight Matthew Villanueva TKO’d Mike Ruiz Jr in round seven from Pearl Theatre at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
In his first title defense, Ramos never found his rhythm…
“Rico Ramos is a very good fighter,” Rigo said after his world championship-capturing fight. “But I train very hard and when I train, no one can beat me.”
The quick and slick Rigondeaux scored a knockdown in the first session and threw a slew of rapid-fire power shots to end the affair but Ramos pulled through the early adversity. From there, Rigondeaux methodically controlled the pace, although both fighters seemed a bit tentative and unwilling to engage from the second through the fifth rounds.
In the sixth, Rigondeaux (9-0-0, 7ko) bothered Ramos by holding and hitting. Joe Cortez warned Rigondeaux as Ramos (20-1-0, 11ko) recovered but Rigondeaux smelled blood in the water. The Cuban burst from his corner and belted Ramos with power shots to the head and a solid left hook to the midsection that sent Ramos to the canvas for a count of ten.
“He hit me in the back of the head and I got dizzy,” said Ramos. “The referee told us to fight and I wanted to take my time. That’s when he caught me with the body shot and I fell. I’m going to bounce back harder. I’ll be up in that gym next week.”
(Video embedded above credit – YouTube, GoossenTutorBoxing)
Diaz Jr (7-0-0, 6ko) and Robb (7-1-0, 3ko) produced a shootout with its share of knockdowns and blood in a fight that both young boxers took on short notice. From the opening bell, power punches flew – and landed. As Diaz Jr, of Los Angeles, began to come on strong in the second, Sacramento-based Robb dropped him with a big right hand. Diaz Jr retaliated with two knockdowns of his own in the third round.
Refusing to back down, the fight enjoyed several swings of momentum. The fighters loaded up on the majority of their shots with Diaz Jr landing 148 power shots to Robb’s 120. In the seventh, Diaz Jr. rocked Robb and began a barrage of punches that caused referee Vic Drakulich to call the fight.
“It was much harder than I thought,” said Diaz Jr of the scheduled eight-round super featherweight attraction. “I was expecting it to be more like my previous fights, but not everybody’s the same. I can’t hit everybody with one punch and knock them down.”
Impressed by the action and torrid pace, Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood called the fight a “mini classic.”
Villanueva (7-0-1, 7ko), of Burbank, California, came into this evening with six stoppages in his six wins and his Friday night victory was no different. The five-foot-seven Villanueva overwhelmed his opponent with his superior power. By round two, it looked like Ruiz Jr (8-2-1, 3ko) of Fresno, might not survive as Villanueva dropped him, however the determined fighter made it back to his corner.
Villanueva opened the third round by pummeling his opponent but again Ruiz. Jr showed heart and resolve to keep the bout alive. Through the middle rounds, Villanueva showed great composure for a young fighter to not force the knockout. His patience paid off in the seventh when Villanueva began to tee off on Ruiz Jr. before referee Russell Mora stepped in to end the fight.
By the end of the scheduled eight-round super flyweight affair, Villanueva had landed 211 punches; Ruiz 62.
The event was promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions.