By Sean Crose
At least people aren’t calling him boring at the moment.
“I fight my fight, not my opponent’s fight.” Guillermo Rigondeax said those words in the lead up to his match with Thai super bantamweight Sod Kokietgym in Macao on Saturday. Rigondeaux may have indeed fought his fight, but it was the kind of fight few, if any, had seen the WBA and WBO champion fight before.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Short as it was, the bout started conventionally enough, with Rigondeaux and and Kokietgym briefly touching gloves in the center of the ring, then getting down to business. Rigondeaux led with his right jab, then slipped in the left with blinding speed. Nothing new there.
In fact the only thing of note during the first minute or so of the fight was the Cuban immigrant’s great strength – his ability to dominate the range of the battle. Rigondeaux always kept just far away enough from Kokietgym to avoid being hit without ever having to go on his bicycle.
If needed to, Rigondeaux would take a step or two back, but then he’d be right back in the fight, lunging inward like a fencer with another right jab. Almost immediately, it was clear that Rigondeaux’s speed and skill might be a real issue for Kokietgym.
That didn’t turn out to be the case, however, for things took their odd turn with 1:39 left in the round. For it was then that the two men butted heads. Word is already out on the internet that it’s uncertain whether Rigondeaux intentionally butted Kokietgym or not. The truth, however, is that the butt was most certainly accidental – or it least it looked that way to the naked eye.
At any rate, Kokietgym went down and complained to referee Mark Nelson. To be sure, Kokietgym definitely looked to be in pain as he got up and stepped over to a neutral corner. He was still shaking out the cobwebs as he walked back to the center of the ring to resume the fight.
Kokietgym was staring at his glove (presumably to see if there was blood) as he went to touch gloves with Rigondeaux. He had just taken his eye off said glove when Rigondeaux dropped him. Here’s how it happened:
Rigondeaux held out his right glove and may have – MAY have – touched gloves with Kokietgym before rapidly pulling that same right glove back and nailing nailing his opponent hard. A flash left from Rigondeaux immediately followed and Kokietgym subsequently hit the mat.
It all probably happened in less than a second, was sneaky and unsportsmanlike, and was highly effective. For Nelson stopped the fight and Rigondeaux got to celebrate a knockout victory.
Those comparing the whole affair to Mayweather’s “sucker punch” knockout of Victor Ortiz are wide of the mark, however. While it’s true Rigondeaux can be accused of throwing a “sucker punch” similar to the one Mayweather famously tossed off in 2011, the situations are entirely different.
For Mayweather had actually been fouled by Ortiz during their fight. In short, he was in a dirty bout and had decided to throw sportsmanship out the window. Nothing dirty happened to Rigondeaux in Macao on Saturday. He simply took advantage of a situation where gentlemanly behavior was considered to be the norm. Rigondeaux was well within his rights to do what he did, but he now leaves himself open to the charge of being a poor sport.
He’s no longer open to the charge of being called boring, however, at least not for the time being. In fact, at least one member of the media has written that this whole thing may work out to Rigondeaux’s advantage. That particular journalist may be right. Be it for good or ill, Guillermo Rigondeaux finally got people excited on Saturday.