He had agreed to walk blindly into the championship ring by failing (refusing?) to watch a single taped bout of his Cuban opponent.
This was how Nonito Donaire tried to caption his tragic failure to unify the WBO and WBA super bantamweight crowns, now the exclusive property of the incredible Guillermo Rigondeaux.
That, of course, was not easy to believe.
It was more likely the 30-year-old deposed champion did watch some tapes of Rigondeaux in action, but he failed to see anything substantially, thereby missing the core.
For the record, your reporter here had some glimpse of the 32-year-old Rigondeaux on tape, and was himself hardly impressed.
The peppery Cuban had at best appeared predictable, slightly robotic, an easy assignment.
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Rigondeaux, in those bouts, was hardly the elusive spitfire he had magically turned into in the title unifier against Donaire.
It was very likely the Cuban defector offered or managed to dish out only average prowess in earlier bouts.
If Rigondeaux instantly morphed into one inaccessible marvel, it was because he obviously trained his hardest in order to come up with a compelling win against the highly favored Donaire.
Unfortunately, there were fans and self-styled experts, led by promoter Bob Arum, who continued to demean the gifted Cuban as nothing more than a run-run escape artist.
It’s the core of Arum’s gospel on boxing that championship bouts must be entertaining slam-bang affairs, in order for them to become thrilling valid theater.
In fact, there were other Arum disciples who insisted Rigondeaux did not in anyway vanquish Donaire.
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Said one Bob Arum Disciple (BAD), a retired police colonel based in Mindanao: “There’s no doubt on Rigondeaux’s talent as a runner, I mean a boxer, his style of fighting assures him of victory. How about the public that paid no less than a thousand bucks and came expecting a good fight only to watch what we call in Filipino ‘patintero?’ They were robbed of their money.”
Reply: It was not Rigondeaux’s fault if Donaire froze after being tagged and hurt in the opening round. Donaire should in fact be thankful that the Cuban decided to engage and pour it all only in the last two rounds.
BAD: “I honestly believe it was the Cuban who was a complete coward. He kept running away, takbo nang takbo, if he’s brave, he should have engaged right in the first round. He kept turning his back, if a fighting cock, he should have been turned into adobo, which goes perfectly with your favorite Torres brandy.”
Reply: But that, my friend, playing elusive and refusing to play into the tested turf of the opponent, was the core and theme of old sweet science, under the Queensberry Rules. I have yet to talk to somebody with sound boxing sense who was mad at Rigondeaux. If at all they honestly begrudged him for being too good.
BAD: OK, ask those who watched if they got their money’s worth, the answer: A big “NAH!”
Reply: The majority was also disappointed at Donaire, who had been spoiled after being given easy opponents. He had been used to punching picnics. Bob Arum was right, the Cuban’s elusive style would not be easy to appreciate but, in its purity, it’s valid boxing theater. It would not be an exaggeration to say Rigondeaux had at moments succeeded in elevating boxing towards the border of art. Those who can’t appreciate Rigondeaux have obviously developed a slurred taste for primitive, savage fighting.
BAD: I agree 100% on that aspect. Thank you, but the thing is that it’s the violence, if not the savagery, which readily sells.
Reply: Thanks, you have a point there. But boxing was also rewarded with a masterful eye-opener. Don’t you think it’s also time for Pinoys to develop full-hearted boxers with deeper tactical and technical sense? Manny Pacquiao and Brian Viloria fell after they blindly tried to force the issue. But boxing, in its purest sense, is a physical debate which can’t be won through senseless screaming. Everything must be planned and played out prudently.
BAD: Manny, to my view, can recover and be great again. Viloria has got to retire. Thank you very much.
Reply: Well, in the case of Donaire, he should also be able to come back. But one serious flaw got exposed when he fitfully turned over-cautious and refused to take a risk after he was stunned and hurt by Rigondeaux in the opening round.
BAD: What can you propose for Donaire?
Reply: He must be trained and taught how to give an honest determined chase against a phantom of delight like Rigondeaux. After a series of shallow punching picnics (against inferior foes) Donaire had visibly softened deep within. He had never expected to meet a speed demon carved out of a rock. Next time, let’s hope Donaire would agree to leave the picnic table and be ready to descend into hell at the snap of a finger.