WBA 122 lb. champ Guillermo Rigondeaux: “I’ll show Donaire my style is not boring”
By Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing (Jan 29, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
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Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux
At age 31, after nearly 400 amateur fights, two Olympic gold medals and a mere 9 professional fights Cuban sensation Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux is finally a professional world champion. Last week, Rigondeaux stopped former WBA 122 lb. champion Rico Ramos, who had won the belt off an out-of-nowhere punch that flattened Aki Shimoda in July of 2011. This time around, no lucky punch could save Ramos from the superior technician that is El Chacal.

The fight was tentative to start; two counter punchers sizing each other up. But Rigondeaux landed a hard left hand with roughly thirty seconds left in the round and Ramos hit the canvas. He would rise but from that moment on, Ramos seemed to want to be anywhere but the ring.

“He looked worried. He didn’t look scared,” Rigondeaux told me and co-host David Duenez on Leaveitinthering.com radio show this week. “He is a counter puncher by nature so he was always very cautious. But I had a game plan to attack him and he couldn’t figure out how to get at me. I came into the ring to attack him and it all worked out. The preparations we had showed as you can see.”

The fight crawled along with Rigondeaux stepping in and out with his excellent footwork, looking for perfect time to strike.

“It is something to take your time with,” Rigondeaux said of getting a knockout win. “You can’t go out and throw wild punches. That is how [Ramos] became a champion. He caught the other gentleman in the sixth round. I was there and I saw it. I worked on trying for the moment.”

That moment came in the sixth round. Ramos had been downright unwilling to engage all night while Rigondeaux moved in slowly, patiently behind his rapier jab and southpaw cross. Ramos and Rigondeaux came together during an exchange and the Cuban used a veteran move by cuffing the back of Ramos’ head and ripping him with a rear left uppercut. Ramos turned away, bothered by what he seemed to claim was either a head butt or injury to his left eye. For a moment, referee Joe Cortez halted the action with Ramos leaning on the ropes, hanging his head over them.

“It was a good punch. It was to the forehead,” said Rigondeaux. “That shook [Ramos] more than he thought. That is when I caught the moment and went at him.”

Rigondeaux saw Ramos’ vulnerability and did not hesitate. He hit Ramos with left after left to the head, backing him into the corner. Amos raised his guard against the onslaught which of course was exactly what Rigo had looked for all night. The perfect opening appeared.

“It was a hard hook to the solar plexus. I knew it was a hard punch and there was no way out of it,” Rigondeaux explained.

The hook hit Ramos and from live accounts at ringside was quite loud. Ramos hit the canvas and looked to have zero intention of rising. In moments, the fight was over. After so many struggles, such as defecting from Cuba to the US twice and the never easy task of finding anyone willing to fight a technician with power in both hands and less than ten fights on his resume, Rigondeaux finally was a champion.

Now comes the future which appears to be wide open for the fighter who started at 118 pounds and claims he can fight anyone from 118 to 126. While the fight was not barnburner, Rigondeaux was the aggressor and perhaps with the stoppage win, can finally lay to the rest the boring label put on him by the dreadfully dull Ricardo Cordoba fight in 2010.

“Everybody has their opinion of course. But you can see there was nothing boring about my fight on Saturday night,” said Rigondeaux. “It takes two to tango and I can only do what I can when someone is not engaging. I was aggressive and I got the job done. I wanted to put on a show for Showtime and the fans and that is what I did.”

Rigondeaux credited his new trainer, Ismael Salas, a fellow Cuban national who is now in the States. Rigondeaux was formerly with Freddie Roach in Hollywood and then later in Houston with Ronnie Shields. Both men brought things to the southpaw fighter’s game but it is Salas, whom Rigo has known for years, that he feels most comfortable with. The two joined forces late last year when this fight was originally slated to happen. The extra time as this bout found a place to be held gave the two men more time to develop their chemistry.

“Ronnie was kind of busy. He had four or five fighters at the same time,” said Rigo. “I have nothing against Ronnie Shields. I got along with him very well. But I felt I needed a lot more time and there was scheduling conflicts. And also, with Salas it makes it easier because I don’t lose anything in translation in the corner, you know? We’re both Cuban. We know each other from back in Cuba. It made it a lot easier for me to work with him.”

Now comes the fun part: defending the title. The problem remains the same, however. Rigondeaux is a fighter with 9 wins, 7 knockouts, no losses and no drawing power at the box office. It will take a creative promotional effort from his promoter Top Rank, to get Rigondeaux the kinds of fights he wants. Chief among those fights is a showdown with Nonito Donaire who is moving up on Saturday to face Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr. on HBO Saturday for the vacant WBO super bantamweight title. Should he prevail, Rigondeaux prefers that bout. Donaire, fresh an mind-numbingly dull performance of his own to end last year, and his wife, Rachel, have dismissed Rigondeaux as merely a boring fighter no one wants to see. El Chacal had a response for that.

“I am waiting for the promotional and management team to bring something to the table,” he said. “Hopefully Nonito will come to the table and I will show him there is nothing boring about my style. If Nonito comes I will attack. I have a game plan for what I want to do that night. I will show the world that night I am not boring. I believe Nonito does not want to fight me for a lot of reasons. He saw what I did to the champ and Nonito’s coming up in weight. I don’t think that Nonito wants to engage with him.”

For now, Rigondeaux is basking in the glow of his new belt with all the hope and faith in the world that whomever he faces, he will be victorious.

“Last year was slow for me. A lot of things were going on. But I am happy with Top Rank. Bob Arum is the greatest promoter there is right now,” Rigondeaux explained of his future. “I think this year things will open up a lot more for me. I am here for whatever it is and whomever he has to deal with in the ring. I am ready to go and fight the best there is. If it’s Nonito Donaire then I will fight him. If not, I will fight whoever is the best.”


More of Gabriel's recent work (Contact info for Montoya below):
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You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

* Special Thanks To MaxBoxing.

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