Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

 

EASY WORK FOR RIGONDEAUX

Hey Doug:

It’s been a while since I have written you, but I wanted to make a couple of comments regarding the Guillermo Rigondeaux-Nonito Donaire fight.

I don’t remember his name, but props to the cat who wrote you on Friday (I think) and predicted how easily Rigo would beat Donaire. Don’t get me wrong, it was a somewhat boring fight (and that’s being generous) but Rigo basically gave Nonito a lesson on Saturday night. That score of 114-113 was so absurd it doesn’t even pass the laugh test. I hadn’t seen Rigo fight before but instead of “El Chacal,” he should be called “The quick black panther.” The dude can change directions so fast it’s almost blinding. I’m not sure a 100-percent focused, un-distracted Nonito can beat this dude. Rigo is boring but effective. It’s going to be tough to solve him.

Anyways, I’m curious how you saw the fight. Late. – Juan “West Coast” Alvarado “AKA “Johnny Sunday,” AKA ”Lieutenant Diaz”)

I think I saw it the way you did, Juan. I thought Rigondeaux dominated Donaire, just as Steve (the “cat” from the first email of last Friday’s mailbag, which you referred to) predicted.

Steve had great comic book analogies for both Rigo and Donaire. He likened the Cuban lefty to the Black Panther due to his unique fighting style (a comparison you obviously agree with given your nickname suggestion) and he compared Donaire to my favorite Marvel character, Nightcrawler, because he said the Filipino Flash’s jumpy strike-and-move style was akin to Nighty’s teleportation ability.

I liked his comparisons but I disagreed with his fight prediction. I was wrong. His “Black Panther” b__tch slapped my “Nightcrawler’s” sorry blue ass for 12 rounds.

Of course, I thought Donaire would employ a completely different strategy. I never thought he’d be dumb enough to start the fight out stalking forward – flat footed! – against a great counter puncher.

Donaire not moving against Rigondeaux is like Nightcrawler not using his mutant ability in a fight with a badass like the Black Panther.

The Fuzzy Elf’s gotta “BAMF” around to kick some butt.

If Nightcrawler doesn’t teleport he’s not a member of the X-Men, he’s just a pointy eared freak with a tail – and pretty much useless in a fight.

Same deal with Donaire and his lateral movement. If he’s stalking forward – flat footed, no jab, no feints, just looking for one big shot – he goes from being an elite boxer to a predictable fighter. That’s what he was on Saturday.

However, I agree with you. Even if Donaire had boxed the way I thought he would, he might have still been schooled by Rigo. The Cuban is that good.

TIME TO STOP BEING IN DENIAL

Hi Dougie,

On April first you published, and agreed with, a fan’s comment statingI’ve got Nonito Donaire stopping Guillermo Rigondeaux. I don’t think it’s a close fight, and I think Fernando Montiel was much tougher competition. Take care. – Todd”

I think it’s time for people to stop being in denial. Would you agree? I mean, to say that “Montiel is a tougher fight” is just silly. To say that “Nishioka is the best of the division,” or “Rigo is just another amateur” is being in denial. Rigondeaux’s precision punching and footwork are the best in boxing – combined with good power. Nonito is more a one-dimensional fighter. If you neutralize his left hook, Nonito is done. I think that Nonito is somewhat good but Rigondeaux is on a different level. Can we get some respect for Rigo now?

BTW, in hindsight, Todd was right in that it was not a close fight – it was a total dominance by Rigondeaux who took Donaire to school in a beautiful display of boxing skills.(P.S. Let’s keep it real!) Thanks. – Ed

Ed, I’ll keep it real, but so should you. My prediction for the Donaire-Rigondeaux fight was dead wrong. Clearly, Rigondeaux was a MUCH tougher fight for Donaire than Montiel or anyone else the Filipino star has faced. Rigondeaux has proved himself in the pro ranks and I think should be considered an elite fighter.

However, I don’t think you’re keeping it real at all when you dismiss Donaire as “one-dimensional fighter” and say that he’s “done” if one neutralizes his left hook.

You and other fans (and members of the boxing media) should be able to applaud and appreciate Rigondeaux without crapping all over Donaire.

He fought a poor fight against an exceptional boxer. That doesn’t mean he isn’t still an elite fighter. I think to suddenly regulate him to a “somewhat good fighter” is being in denial about his ability and his considerable accomplishments.

DO COMMENTATORS INFLUENCE US THAT MUCH?

Hey Doug,

I was messaging with a friend of mine during the Rigo v Donaire fight, and boy was there a discrepancy in the scoring.

I was watching the HBO feed, and I had Rigo winning 118-109.

My bud was watching the Bob Sheridan feed and he had it 114-113 Rigo.

Can the commentators really make that much of a difference on us watching at home?

We are both boxing guys for about thirty years now, and usually see the fights the same way, but this one has me perplexed.

How did you see it? I just can’t give a guy rounds (Donaire) for moving forward and not throwing. Rigo controlled from start to finish. I could even see round 10 being even, as that was a flash knockdown.

Please discuss. – Jude Gonsalvez, Pickering, Ontario, Canada

Like you, I saw a one-sided fight in favor of Rigondeaux. I gave Donaire one more round than you (10 rounds to two) for a 117-110 score (which would have been 118-110 without the knockdown).

But, like you, I watched the HBO broadcast. Did that influence how I scored the fight? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I often disagree with the way the HBO broadcasters view a fight.

I think commentators have some sway over the way fans perceive a fight, but not so much over longtime observers of the sport like you and your buddy.

I believe that fights like Donaire-Rigondeaux come down to preference (and sometimes culture). Some fans simply cannot tolerate a boxer constantly moving away from an aggressive fighter, no matter effective he is with hitting and not getting hit in return.

I like aggressive fighters but they have to land clean punches for me to give them any credit for their style. If a slick, retreating boxer is landing accurate, hard punches (as Rigo did all night vs. Donaire) I can’t help but score rounds for them, even if I’m not into the fight or the way they are boxing.

But some fans and certain boxing cultures (primarily Mexican and Japanese) believe that if a boxer gives ground it means that he is conceding the fight to a certain degree to the boxer who is coming forward and trying “make the fight” (even if the aggressor is unsuccessful in his attempts, as Donaire was).

Sometimes the popularity and personalities of the fighters also play a part in the way fans (and media) view the fight. Donaire is a bright personality and most boxing observers are familiar with him, while Rigondeaux is a quiet, understated guy who is not as well known nor as well liked (thanks to his sometimes negative style). I’ve noticed in the past that some of my boxing writer peers have given what I thought was the benefit of the doubt to the better-known boxer (who also was the aggressor) in bouts that I thought the more popular fighter soundly lost.

Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather was one such fight. Everyone knows Floyd is not my favorite boxer but I thought he handled De La Hoya to a comfortable decision (eight rounds to four is how I scored it from ringside). I recall that Kevin Iole, a veteran fight scribe whose opinion I respect, scored the fight a draw. Iole, like your buddy (and Timothy Bradley who did the international broadcast with Col. Bob), scored Donaire-Rigondeaux 114-113 for Rigo.

Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora is another controversial bout that comes to mind. Shane is one of my favorite fighters, but I thought Mora easily controlled the first nine rounds of the bout with his footwork and accurate counter punching. I worked the international broadcast (with Dave Bontempo) and scored the fight 117-111 for Mora (who very few fans and boxing writers like). Dan Rafael, another respected veteran boxing writer, had the exact same score for Mosley. Rafael also scored Donaire-Rigondeaux 114-113 for Rigo.

Allow me to be VERY clear: I am NOT saying that Iole or Rafael had messed up scorecards for the De La Hoya-Mayweather, Mosley-Mora or Donaire-Rigondeaux bouts. Many fans and media members agreed with those scorecards. I simply saw a different fight than they did.

This is part of boxing.

KINDA SURE RIGO IS LEGIT

Hey Doug,

Probably going to need a few days to figure out exactly what I think of Rigo. I thought Donaire looked a little flat, but there’s a reason the Flash was so highly regarded going into this fight. And even if a fighter comes in at less than 100%, regardless of the excuses, you have to tip your hat when the victor clearly outclasses an elite opponent (for the record, I scored the fight 117-110, obviously for Guillermo).

My initial reaction is that, to borrow from Jim Lampley (who used a phrase I never expected a man of his self-professed impressive vernacular to use – sorry Lamps, I still love you), Rigondeaux is all that. He may not have a fan friendly work rate, but he’s slick, he has tremendous footwork, and he carries enough pop to earn respect even when he’s just pot-shotting. Is he a little chinny? Maybe. And I bet you’re going to get a lot of Flash fans writing in saying that it was just the perfect storm for Rigo, and their boy will knock him cold in a rematch at 126.

However, if you breakdown the knockdown, yeah, it was legit, and Rigo was stunned. But he recovered right away, and I think it was really a product of his relative inexperience in the pros. While Donaire isn’t the dirtiest fighter, he set up the knockdown with some rough tactics, and I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that, regardless of his amateur pedigree, Rigo never dealt with similar tactics from a such a high level opponent.

All that being said, I can’t help shake the feeling that there’s just something missing from his game. I can’t really articulate it, but something’s not quite there.

Where do you think they go now? Rigondeaux walked out of that ring a more seasoned fighter, and, for a fighter, is a very young 32, likely still in his physical prime. I’d love to see how he responds to a compact pressure fighter who stays on him for 36 minutes and provides a small target for return fire. Donaire, on the other hand, may not have taken the kind of beating that greatly shortens careers physically, but he didn’t sound like a guy whose heart is really in it at the moment. With money in the bank and a baby on the way, I certainly wouldn’t begrudge him if he wants to step away for a while. And I’m not really keen on a rematch unless he’s totally committed to it. – James

If Donaire is really moving to featherweight I would like to see how he fares at 126 pounds before I sign on for a rematch with Rigo.

I don’t know who Rigondeaux can fight next but I am looking forward to his next bout. Prior to the Donaire fight I didn’t care to watch him, but I was impressed with the ability he showed on Saturday and I don’t think he totally stunk out the joint like some fans and some of my peers have opined.

I was disappointed with the fight but I put most of the blame on Donaire for boxing a stupid fight. If you’re just going to follow a guy around the ring without punching (or even working a jab) you’re going to be totally ineffective against a boxer like Rigondeaux.

So I guess the question is who can be effective against Rigo? Not many – if any – at 122 pounds. If Cristian Mijares beats Victor Terrazas this Saturday I think the former 115-pound beltholder could pose an interesting style matchup with his fellow southpaw. The Mexican veteran is fast, fluid and can be slippery when he’s at his best.

If Rigo stays at 122 pounds for another year or so I think the undefeated British duo of Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg could give him a spirited challenge. Frampton is a compact pressure fighter who will stay on him for 36 minutes, so that’s a matchup I’m sure you’d love to see. Another undefeated contender who could give Rigo a tough fight (in my humble opinion) is Russian veteran Alexander Bakhtin.

If Rigo moves to featherweight, RING champ Mikey Garcia could give him a fight but I think longtime unbeaten WBA titleholder Chris John probably has the most difficult style for the Cuban.

Donaire is going to take some time off with the birth of his son and his pending shoulder surgery. When he returns he’ll probably be matched with JuanMa Lopez.

THAT WAS NO “SCHOOLING”

Hi Doug,

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote to your mailbag. I got to say I didn’t see the schooling on Saturday night a lot of people did. I saw one guy potshot and run and the other guy follow him haplessly around the ring, looking for one shot to end the fight. I thought a lot of the rounds were close because neither guy was doing much. I’m not disputing the decision but this fight was not say Calzaghe-Lacy or something (11 rounds to 1 for Rigo some fans had it; I didn’t see it like that). It also was also not great to watch. How many people go back and watch Dirrell-Stevens, Hakkar-Hopkins, or Mayweather-Baldomir for kicks? Honestly, if that were a PPV fight, would you not feel like you were ripped off (for $60-$70, the fight better be worth it IMO)?

I can understand the hype because one guy was P4P level and the other was a decorated amateur with few pro fights but still once the bell rings all that should matter is the fight itself. Rigo especially didn’t make me want to watch him again and I can appreciate boxers and “purist fights” like Leonard-Benitez or Nelson-Whitaker. – Jake from Portland

Yeah, I consider myself a “purist” when the both boxers are skilled and savvy but also take some risks. I’m not a purist when one fighter shows skills but doesn’t take risks while his opponent fights like he’s never been taught how to box (or think). So like you, I won’t be watching De La Hoya-Trinidad anytime soon.

I bring up that fight because fans and media saw it many different ways – a close fight, an either-way fight; a “boxing clinic” put on by De La Hoya; a close but deserved victory for Tito.

Folks aren’t as polarized about the Donaire-Rigo decision, but they are split on whether the fight was close or enjoyable to watch.

I didn’t think it was close. Apart from the 10th, the only round I scored for Donaire was the seventh (I thought he buzzed Rigo early and the Cuban got on his bike for the rest of the round and didn’t land any significant punches – although I should note that Donaire didn’t land anything after that one shot).

If the fight was a super-hyped pay-per-view headliner, I’d be disgusted. But it wasn’t. It was an HBO fight and it was viewed as special treat for the “purists” from the get-go. Most of us predicted a chess match until donaire could clip Rigo.

And even though Donaire wasn’t effective, it wasn’t completely devoid of entertainment value. There was some intensity because of the way Donaire blindly walked to Rigo and ate those huge left hands. I thought there was a chance Donaire would go down. (It didn’t happen, which confirms that the Flash has got a hell of a chin.) And there was some drama with the 10th round knockdown.

I think Rigo took Donaire to school in terms of ring generalship, but he didn’t beat the BWAA’s Fight of the Year down, physically speaking. He didn’t dominate him in that way. One could argue that he dominated Donaire mentally, though. One could also question if Donaire was mentally there to begin with.

HISTORIC VICTORY

Boring or not – I thought what Rigo accomplished was an incredible, and to my knowledge an unprecedented achievement. For a guy with 11 PRO FIGHTS to clearly defeat a legit top five pound for pound, multi-division champ, with once in a lifetime athletic talent, who was bigger and with fight ending one punch power… It was absolutely stunning. I had it 8 to 4 for Rigo – and thought that was being very fair to Donaire.

Where do you rate this win historically? It’s gotta be up there right?

And who the hell is gonna be able to beat him if a guy with Donaire’s speed was hitting air all night. What is it gonna take? (For the record I think he would murder Mares!) Geez… – Ed from UK

Rigo would be a huge odds favorite to beat Mares, who’s got his hands full with Daniel Ponce de Leon next month, but you should never count the Guadalajara native out. Mares finds a way to beat even the most savvy of boxers, as he did with Anselmo Moreno.

Speaking of “Chemito,” I think he would give Rigo a run for his money if he were to return to the 122-pound division. I think Chris John has the experience, tools and style to beat Rigo as well. Rigo vs. Mikey Garcia would interesting – two master counter punchers with power going at it. I think Rigo has more talent and experience than Mikey, and he should be the favorite going into that matchup, but I’d like to see the fight.

How do I rate Rigondeaux’s upset of Donaire? It’s up there, dude. It’s not unprecedented for an underdog to knock off a pound-for-pound player. Don’t forget, Mike Tyson was No. 1 in THE RING’s pound for pound ratings when Buster Douglas took him down in Tokyo. Donald Curry was high on everyone’s P4P list when Lloyd Honeyghan stopped him in 1986.

However, Douglas had a record of 29-4-1 (with one No-Contest) when he faced Tyson; Honeyghan was 27-0 when he fought Curry. Rigondeaux was fighting in his 12th pro bout Saturday, which is super impressive. However, he’s 32 years old with more than 400 amateur bouts to his credit (and half of those bouts were national, regional and international tournament bouts). So, I think the experience from all those amateur bouts easily translates to 15- 20 quality professional bouts. 

Still, it’s an amazing achievement. If he can win a few major victories at 122 and 126 pounds he may be able to punch his ticket to the International Boxing Hall of Fame given his amateur accomplishments.

GO RIGO!

Mad Props to the NEW unified 122 pound champion!! I knew this cat had something special in him. Just beat a top 5 P4P champion. Who said amateur experience doesn’t mean much? For Donaire, well he was exposed. Simply no excuses for his loss. He couldn’t fight effectively on the inside, and it showed. He knew Rigo was slick and he seemed uncomfortable in there. Rigo took his best shot with that knockdown and got right back up. Rigo beat the odds and I could not be happier for him. Donaire needs a breather and Rigo should enjoy this victory for awhile and go on to greener pastures. Go RIGO! – Allan, Rancho Cordova, CA

It was a tremendous victory for Rigondeaux and it makes for a great personal story of overcoming odds and obstacles.

Don’t count Donaire out, though. Yes, he was “exposed” (Jesus, what it is with hardcore fans and that word?) but that could be a good thing. He was exposed as being a human being. Hopefully, Donaire now realizes this. He’s not a super hero. He ain’t no mutant. He’s gotta do what every other fighter does to prepare for a fight.

At this level, he can’t afford to have a part-time trainer. Donaire needs to either relocate to Oxnard, Calif., and train with Robert Garcia every day during his camps or he needs to find a new trainer who is willing to train him in the Bay Area (perhaps Virgil Hunter would be a good fit).

At the elite level, he can’t be foolish enough to enter a fight less than 100 percent and he certainly can’t worry about the crowd’s reaction to his tactics.

I’m not giving excuses for Donaire – all of this is his fault and he deserved to be undressed by Rigo on Saturday. But maybe going forward he will approach his training and his fights the way professional boxers are supposed to. And if he does, I think he can recapture his form and maybe even become a better boxer.

WORST BOXER SINCE DIRRELL

Hey Dougie,
I think I just saw the worst fighter I’ve ever seen since a young Andre Dirrell. Here’s hoping Rigondeaux’s career is just as short. In a world with internet porn, I don’t know why anyone would bother to watch this coward do what he does.  – Todd S.

LOL. Come on, Todd, he wasn’t THAT bad.

I’d choose to watch Rigo over internet porn. (Well, his live fights, anyway. Given a choice between porn and a replay of his fights, I’ll probably go for the graphic f___ing.)

NO LOVE FOR THE SWEET SCIENCE

Wow Rigo put on a clinic!!! I don’t know what is wrong with boxing fans who have no love for the science. I enjoy a brawl but I love to see two highly skilled fighters go at it. Dan Rafael’s 114-113 score is insane. Where did he find rounds for Donaire.

Mythical match ups:

Whitaker-Pacquaio at 140
Chavez-Pryor at 140
Mosley-Marquez 135
 

Thanks. – Akeem

The fans inside Radio City Music Hall who booed Rigo were either Donaire fans (who may have also been frustrated at Donaire’s lack of intelligence) or just typical sports fans who want competition, intensity and drama when they go to a live sporting event. They didn’t get that with Saturday’s fight and most of them blamed Rigo for it. I think at least SOME of the blame (if not most of it) belongs with Donaire, who did not come 100-percercent prepared and did not box a smart fight.

I think a lot of fans who watched the bout on TV were either entertained or at least impressed with Rigo’s performance. But watching a fight on TV is a more casual experience and thus fans aren’t as demanding. Fans who pay good money for tickets and take the time out of their lives to be at a boxing event are going to want more from the experience. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they have no appreciation for the Sweet Science.

My guess is that Rafael, Iole, Bradley, Bob Arum, judge John Stewart and all the fans who saw a very close fight, scored any round in which Rigo backpedaled for more than 2 minutes to Donaire.

Mythical matchups:

Whitaker-Pacquaio at 140 – Whitaker gets off the canvas to score a UD
Chavez-Pryor at 140 – Pryor by UD or MD in an epic ring war
Mosley-Marquez 135 – Sugar Shane by late TKO in a brutal battle of attrition

 

 

Photos / Naoki Fukuda

Email Dougie at dfischer@ringtv.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer

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