Something really struck me with an interview that appeared today featuring former WBA/WBO super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Plainly put, I didn’t like it.
I’m not talking about how the piece was written, the writer Elisinio Castillo did a fair job for what it was worth. What actually upset me were the quotes within it, given by the ex-champ Rigo, himself.
The stylish Cuban has picked up much unnecessary criticism from the media in recent years, chiefly from a writer who I have serious respect for in Dan Rafael of ESPN. I just don’t get it.
Top Rank head Bob Arum, not only dropped the two-time gold medallist from his roster, but also spat one of the most memorable quotes of recent times whilst speaking about his fighter’s ability to sell on HBO, “Every time I mention him, they throw up” – really?
Whilst Rigondeaux is admittedly not the most offensive fighter, he certainly isn’t boring – not if you know what you’re looking for.
Boxing seems to be all champagne and caviar when two fighters are smashing ten bells out of each other center ring – I’m down with that. But in the same way I liked seeing the Cardinals absolutely thrash Green Bay in week 16, I also equally enjoyed seeing them scrape by the same team three weeks later in overtime. My point being is that you can like both.
I think that works with boxing as well. Whilst I absolutely loved watching Matthysse – Provodnikov, I equally enjoy watching Mayweather, Hopkins and Whitaker fights, not to mention fights from yesteryear featuring the now social media famous Nicolino Locche – I won’t go as far as mentioning Willie Pep because my time machine is currently out of action, but you get the picture.
For a fighter as highly skilled as Rigo to come out with quotes like today is sickening; he told George Ebro, “It will be essential [to start over] and I think that I’m going to leave everything old behind.”
“To everyone who says that I do nothing but hit and run, now I’m going to stand in the middle of the ring and I’m not going to run anywhere. To win, I do not need to move myself. I’ll be right there in the middle of the ring.”
So now, because of the pressure from a major network television, arguably the world’s biggest promoter and a very well established journalist, one of the most gifted fighters of our generation is going to change his style, stand center ring and slug it out.
In all seriousness, is it because the other fighters of his generation simply aren’t as good as him? Maybe.
This change is all for the benefit of entertainment? I think it makes you wonder exactly what entertainment is. If entertainment can only be delivered by being thrashed about the head for 36 minutes – let’s not call it boxing anymore.
‘To hit and not get hit’ is a phrase coined all too freely in modern boxing press. I mean if completely shutting down your opponent over twelve rounds works – then that’s a skill to behold in itself.
I don’t like folk music, but I’m sure somebody else out there does. I’m not calling for country music to jazz itself up a little or be thrown from the schedule of my nearest entertainment venue, I appreciate it works – for some people.
Let’s ask Gordon Lightfoot to start singing rap music, a lot more people like that after all.