Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux is facing the biggest opponent of his boxing career. Although he sits on the throne at 122 pounds, the world of boxing may not be ready to embrace his reign. The opponent which he is now forced to face is the business of boxing.
Through the history of the sport of boxing, many greats have come and gone. It is the boxing world’s greatest anticipation as each year passes to await the next evolution of champion fighters. In 2013, boxing has turned a new leaf.
Rigondeaux, the WBA and WBO Super Bantamwieght Champion is 12-0, 8 KOs in his brief professional career. The native of Cuba is most recognized for his amateur success, claiming only 12 losses over a span of 400 plus amateur fights.
Rigondeaux won two Olympic gold medals while representing Cuba, one in the year 2000, and another in 2004. Other amateur achievements recorded include six gold medals in major world boxing events.
Many of professional boxing’s most accomplished members have honored Rigondeaux, with some calling him a boxing phenomenon. On April 13, 2013, Rigondeaux validated his status by way of a unanimous decision over Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY.
At the time of the fight, Donaire was ranked the No. 5 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. On that night, Donaire was exposed to what some fans call one of the greatest technical boxing performances in the history of the sport.
While Rigondeaux’s hand was raised in victory, some fans chanted “El Chacal” in approval. But, it was apparent while sitting in the crowd that the majority of attendee’s were booing in disgust.
How could one of boxing’s best performances be tainted by the lack of the crowd’s approval?
It is no secret that the business of boxing is a money making entertainment industry. The business provides what the fans demand. With other contact sports becoming increasingly more popular, it is explosive demonstrations of knockout power that fans are drawn to.
Although Rigondeaux orchestrated a superb execution of precision, speed, power, and ring generalship, it wasn’t what the majority of boxing fans had in mind. From this very point, Rigondueax had no idea what was yet to come or that his fiercest opponent would be that of the business of boxing, which was staring him dead in the face.
In July of 2013, Top Rank Promotions president, Bob Arum announced that HBO had no interest in airing a future fight with Rigondeaux. The explanation provided by Arum was that Rigondeaux did not engage in exciting fights. What this means in translation is that the fans spoke out to the business of boxing and they responded firmly.
Has the business of boxing exceeded the sport itself?
Photo courtesy of the Boxing Tribune
One may argue that the level of expectation’s regarding sports entertainment, which fuels financial revenues and ratings most certainly has. A sport which was designed to measure ones athletic ability to strike without detection, and avoid being hit, seems to be a story of the past.
There are two sides to every opposing view. Boxing is one of the most subjective sports in the entertainment industry. It is the subjective opinion of critics which makes these events so entertaining. Two people will rarely agree on the outcome of a boxing match—which may be a reminder as to why three judges score each bout.
So where is the happy medium for the boxing community?
We must understand that there would be no major event to see without the government of boxing promoters and broadcasters. In that same light, we must honor and respect the roots of boxing and what its intended purpose was designed for.
It is not very often in this sport that a charismatic sensation, such as Guillermo Rigondeaux is born. The popular vote is what Rigondeaux is in search of and what he needs to capture in order to have a prosperous future in this professional industry.
One thing comes to mind when searching for a solution—public relations. Rigondeaux demonstrates magic in the ring, however, he seems to be unresponsive when it comes to interaction with the boxing community.
Could this be a factor in securing the popular vote amongst fans?
If Rigondeaux had been more open to advertising himself prior to the April 13 bout, would fans have known more about him and still felt the same about the result of the fight? It is fair to say that this too may hold relevance to Rigondeaux’s current dilemma in headlining a future main event.
Round By Round Boxing spoke with Rigondeaux’s manager Gary Hyde and asked him about his fighter’s public relations. Hyde had this to say, “If you met Rigo, everybody who’s met him knows he is very pleasant and forthcoming with any questions that he has been asked”. Hyde explained that the sensitivity of Rigondeaux’s recent departure from Cuba is something that fans and critics need to give special consideration to. “I imagine that I would ask this question to a few other Cubans. I think it took them in some cases 10 years to relax”, Hyde said.
It is certainly a valid and honorable point that Hyde made during our talk. We as boxing fans may not understand the reasons for an athlete’s decision to participate or shy away from social media. It would most likely come down to a split decision amongst fans who would argue the point for either side.
When comparing the likes of other well named and proven professional boxer’s, certain names come to mind. Sugar Ray Leonard did not secure his first major title until he was 26-0. Manny Pacquiao did not achieve this accomplishment until he was 27-2, and Floyd Mayweather was 18-0.
Keeping these comparisons in mind, Rigondeaux achieved this success and more in only 12 professional fights. Simply stated, he is well ahead of his predecessors when it comes to emerging as a professional world champion.
So what does this all mean? With the recent controversy that Rigondeaux is now faced with, it is time to implement balances. This is not the last you will ever see of the current champion as a headliner. There is certainly room for Rigondeaux to grow and enhance his fan base in this industry.
There may be only one way to overcome this dilemma and that is a rematch with Nonito Donaire.
When it comes to subjective opinion, there is obviously still much debate that the fans hold on to. If Rigondeaux could defeat Donaire again, it may just be what it takes for fans to give him the popular vote.
As of now, Rigondeaux is carefully analyzing his opponent—the business of boxing. Gary Hyde stated that there are no concrete opponents lined up for Rigondeaux in his next fight. Even though HBO has not expressed interest in airing Rigondeaux’s next fight, it is always possible that we will see El Chacal on one of the network’s undercards.
Have boxing fans lost sight of the dynamics that this sport was founded on, or have we all become too focused solely on boxing’s commercial excitement? In the case of Guillermo Rigondeaux, you decide.
Gino Garcia is a contributing writer for Round By Round Boxing and the founder of Bang Hard Boxing. Follow Gino @BangHardBoxing on Instagram. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained directly by Gino Garcia for Round By Round Boxing.
What are your thoughts on Guillermo Rigondeaux’s style and HBO’s decision not to air his fights? Let us know by using #RBRBoxing and @RBRBoxing.