Is Guillermo Rigondeaux hiding something by electing to fight on the inside in his last bout?
Following his most recent performance, on June 23, there is now a great deal of skepticism surrounding Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KO’s).
The once much feared former super bantamweight champion brazenly went head-to-head with Julio Ceja (32-4, 28 KO’s) in the FOX opener for Charlo v Cota.
The Ceja bout marked Rigondeaux’s second fight of the year. Yet, prior to his January 13 outing, against Giovanni Delgado, (16-9, 9 KO’s) El Chacal had been in activate for over a year.
The year of inactivity came directly after his one-side and somewhat demoralizing loss to Vasyl Lomachenko.
Prior to the comprehensive loss to Lomachenko, the skilled Cuban was a wildly decorated amateur, turned lethal professional, who displayed near magical defensive capabilities.
While some fans did not care for his style, lovers of the Sweet Science could not deny how smooth and fluid his evasive maneuvers were. And for those who openly enjoy crafty, skilled pugilists, Rigo was a joy to watch. This is exactly why the Cuban’s straight-forward, near bar-fight slugfest was so shocking.
A Different Rigo?
In the very beginning of the opening round Rigondeaux was able to land a series of precise, hurtful left-hands. The shots, both hooks and uppercuts, were so impactful that it seemed certain that it would be a quick night. Those looks turned out to be misleading.
Ceja absorbed the punches well and began shooting his own menacing return-fire back at El Chacal. The unlikely challenger didn’t just fire back. He threw far more punches and landed at a staggeringly high percentage.
As the bout wore on, the aging Cuban refused to change tactics. Instead, he simply sat in the pocket and traded blows like it were a tough-man contest.
The sight was astonishing. Despite being rocked, out-worked and hit far more than he’s ever been touched in a professional prizefight, the gritty El Chacal did score a seventh round knockout.
In the aftermath of the match, Rigondeaux would tell the boxing media that he fought that way on purpose. The dubious explanation rings hollow for many.
“People were saying that I get on the bicycle and run a lot. Well, that’s not true. So, I wanted to show them I could fight in short distance and I wanted to get a couple of rounds in.
“Then, that left-hand came and ended the fight.
“I gave this 100 percent. I want to thank my opponent and especially want to thank my trainer, Ronnie Shields. We worked extremely hard for this and we got the victory.”
Personally, this scribe does not believe for a millisecond that Rigondeaux fought that way simply to appease the fans. It could be true, but I’m not buying it.
Earlier in the evening, on the same card Chris “Primetime” Colbert fought Alberto Mercado and won a ten round unanimous decision victory.
True enough, in several portions of the bout, Colbert did use his feet to evade punches. However, on numerous occasions, Colbert purposefully glued himself to the ropes and invited Mercado to throw punches.
Even when in these close quarters, Primetime was able to effectively defend himself and slip shots. This was not the case with Rigondeaux.
When Rigondeaux got in the phone booth with Ceja, he simply put his head down and ate endless punches like he was doing his best impression of Ricardo Mayorga.
Not only was he taking more straight shots than college kids at an open bar, he appeared to be rocked and stunned a number of times. If this were his intended game plan, it was foolish at best.
Along with Colbert, Tevin Farmer, Caleb Plant, Gary Russell Jr and even Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, to highlight a few, several current boxers have shown great ability to make a pleasing spectacle of evading punches when in close.
At one point in time, so did Rigondeaux! This is why his retort rings so hollow. Using your feet to get out of danger has little to nothing to do with slipping punches and blocking your face!
In the end, time will tell if this was simply a dunderhead-ed game plan or if Mother Nature has finally stripped Rigondeaux of some of his most effective in-ring tools.
The fight against Ceja served as a WBC super bantamweight title eliminator. This means Rigondeaux is now in line to face the winner of the Rey Vargas v Tomoki Kameda bout.
It would seem logical, if Rigondeaux was being truthful, that his notorious and highly enviable skill set will be back on full display in his next prizefight.
However, if age has finally caught up with El Chacal, then we can expect to see another rough and tumble back-alley brawl once he slides through the ropes. Stay tuned to see how it all plays out.
By: Bakari Simpson