Breaking down Guillermo Rigondeax


The opponent

Nonito Donaire is a bad, bad man. A guy coming into this fight was on an 11 year, 30 fight win streak holding titles in two different weightclasses. He has fast hands, fast feet and a DYNAMITE left hook. Here watch for yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a2ZRbJ7JkQ

Guillermo “El Chackal/ The Jackal”Rigondeaux

Arguably one of the greatest amature fighters of all time. A 2x gold medalist (should have been 3 but that is another story for another day) with a record of 388-12 in those bouts, and a rare fighter. He is a defensive counter puncher who carries very big power in his left hand, generally waiting for his opponent to come to him. Lefties are pretty rare and for many years were and still are avoided like plague. The first left handed heavyweight champion didn’t come about untill the early 1990’s (Michael Moorer). The reason why is that everything a righty is taught his entire career is wrong when facing a lefty. You want to circle to your right against an orthodox fighter away from the more powerful right hand to decrease the chance of landing it, but against a lefty this will get you lit up with their power hand. We are just going to call Guillermo by the far more phonetic (and easier to spell) Rigo for the rest of this article.

Lead foot dominance

Because both men have the same side forward it increases the distance between the two fighters. So in order for either to land with their power hand you have to step past their lead foot to hit with any kind of power. When ever you see a lefty vs righty fight there will be a constant battle to step past the other guys lead foot and generally speaking the guy who can do it more often will win the fight. But when you fight a guy like Nonito Donaire with a great left hook it becomes even harder because you are stepping into his most powerful punch, if you step into a big left hook you are going to have a bad time. So Rigo smartly uses a straight left to keep himself out of range of Donaire’s hook.

Defensive wizardry and triangle theory

Because both men have the same side forward it increases the distance between the two fighters. So in order for either to land with their power hand you have to step past their lead foot to hit with any kind of power. When ever you see a lefty vs righty fight there will be a constant battle to step past the other guys lead foot and generally speaking the guy who can do it more often will win the fight. But when you fight a guy like Nonito Donaire with a great left hook it becomes even harder because you are stepping into his most powerful punch, if you step into a big left hook you are going to have a bad time. So Rigo smartly uses a straight left to keep himself out of range of Donaire’s hook.

Every damn time and feinting into power punches

Donaire slaps the lead hand down and Rigo instinctively slips. Rigo is moving to his left here. Notice how he throws a half-assed right hook before the big left? He is doing that to try to get Donaire to move his head into that powerful left hand and again he keeps himself safe from the counter left hook by throwing a straight left hand and landing from beyond the hook’s range. Once again watch the feet too. Lead foot dominance. Brilliant boxing from Rigo.

Discouraging good habits in your opponent

Notice after that wide ass hook from Rigo, Donaire steps back out of range to prevent him from getting that lead foot around his again. Rigo then throws a little jab and Donaire steps back again before moving very agressively to try and get his foot around Rigo’s. A solid approach and good tactic. He created a pattern by retreating and then broke the pattern by trying to advance but the second Rigo notices the big step to get dominance he throws and lands a hard left hand to prevent Donaire from trying to do that again. Those of you who read my Floyd article already know, that unless you are very tough or very stupid, you WILL stop doing things that get you punched in the face.

EVERY DAMN TIME

How many more times can I say it? Donaire slaps the hand down and Rigo slips, this time he drops underneath Donaire’s hook and lands a punch of his own.

Don’t hook with a hooker

A saying coined by Muhammad Ali’s trainer Angelo Dundee during his first fight with Joe Frazier. As true today as it was on that night in March, 1971. A fight Ali lost. By trying to land his own lead hook he ends up stepping into the distance of Donaire’s best punch. That punch has knocked out many a tough fighter. A bad gamble by Rigo.

The good the bad and the ugly

Rigo is smartly continuing to try and work the body of a very powerful fighter to slow him down, but he is using punches (an uppercut/hook here) that leaves him in range of Donaire’s left hook. Donaire for some reason decides to step away from what is clearly his best range and Rigo gets some immediate payback with a nasty straight left hand.

Again, really?

See gif #4. A warning to the wise here, If you are going to slip underneath a right hand you need to get as LOW AS POSSIBLE because if this punch lands then you are going to take a very powerful shot. This not not something you even want to attempt unless you are damn sure you can get underneath it. Being the shorter man helps here.

Responding like a champion

All due respect to Nonito Donaire. He is losing this fight to a more skilled, more technical and brilliant fighter. Rigo knows it, the fans know it and most importantly he knows it. There is a time when you are losing to a textbook fighter, that you just have to come out and say fuck the textbook, this is a fight. He is the bigger man and decides to start using his strength.

Pressure and clinch work

He starts cutting off the ring on Rigo pushing him into the ropes where Rigo smartly tries to clinch to smother his offence from there. When you clinch in the boxing ring it is very important to control at least either the head or one of the arms to prevent your opponent from punching with power. If both of your opponents hands are free they can use one to create distance while hitting with the other.

Comfort in the Chaos

The men spin around off the ropes and Donaire ends up standing in a southpaw stance. Because Rigo has no control over the arms Donaire can use what is called a crossface in grappling. He sticks his wrist into Rigo’s throat to push him back and make distance. He uses his (now) lead right hand to futher push Rigo back with a short punch and wind up a big left hand from the left handed stance. Most fighters are trained to fight in one stance or the other so when they switch they tend to feel very awkward and uncomfortable. Most will try to get back to their preferred stance immediately. When Donaire chose to hit from here he unequivocally said “FUCK THE TEXTBOOK”. This beautiful moment of improvisation is something you will rarely ever see done and that is exactly why a technician like Rigo never expected it.

Shutting down the follow up

Donaire is going for broke here sensing blood in the water and trying to knock him out, but look at this. Rigo doesn’t even move his damn feet. He makes him miss every shot just by shifting his weight as Donaire is throwing everything he’s got. As a person who has been in many a sparring match, not even being able to hit a guy who’s standing right there is one of the most demoralising things you can experience. That man is incredible.

The straw that broke the camel’s eye

Last round and the guys touch gloves and show enormous respect before getting back to business. Look at the scorecard on the bottom of the screen Rigo won every round except for the one he was knocked down. Donaire needs the knockout to win and again gives it all he’s got. Chasing Rigo with that left hook. Rigo steps back twice before throwing a straight left as Donaire is almost running at him. Power is more than just who can throw their hands fastest and with the most weight behind them. Power is creating a collision. If you are driving in your car at 45mph and get rear-ended by one going 55 it not going to be that bad a crash. If you get T-boned by a car doing 55 it’s going to be much worse. But this was a head on collision. By chasing so agressively Donaire amplifies the power of the punch. That left hand broke Donaire’s eye socket. He spent the remainder of the round with his right hand covering his eye and taking punches because of it. Donaire is a warrior and went out on his shield. Much respect.

My thoughts: Rigo is amazing. He is fast, hits hard and one of the most technically sound fighters I have ever seen. HBO black balled him from the sport because Donaire was supposed the be the next Pacquaio but he hasn’t been the same since this fight. Everybody of note even remotely close to his weight class refuses to get in the ring with him. He can make a case as the best fighter in the world right now. He has hospitalized 3 of his last 5 of his opponents, all were bigger guys. Donaire was a top 5 pound for pound fighter and Rigo just took him first to school, then the hospital. What more can he do than destroy the guys willing to actually fight him. His case is arguably one of the most blatant cases of corruption in boxing today. He is 35 and running out of time in his career and everyone seems utterly content to duck him. It sickens me.

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