Boxing has a grand tradition of its athletes protesting, both within and outside the sport. Muhammad Ali, most obviously, protested the Vietnam War and more. Last month, a French Olympian protested his disqualification with a sit-in afterward — the Olympics being a pretty serial site of ring injustice.
Never before has the sport witnessed, until this weekend, a boxer so thoroughly protesting the sport of boxing itself, while boxing.
At least there was a little justice for an execrable performance from Guillermo Rigondeaux, as the judges awarded a split decision win to his bantamweight opponent, John Riel Casimero.
Together, both men landed fewer than 100 combined counted punches, with Casimero edging Rigondeaux 47 to 44. This, however, doesn’t reveal the degree to which Rigo, simply put, ran. Casimero threw closer to 300 punches, Rigo closer to 200.
Rigo’s showing was almost like performance art. What does anti-boxing look like? At the end, when booed, he smiled. Mission accomplished! Showtime’s commentators, between some criticism, struggled to find something nice to say about the monstrosity it allowed on its airwaves. It was remarkable that at age 40, Rigo was able to run around so very, very much. Some achievements, though, flatly aren’t worth achieving. In a different sport, running a lot at age 40 might be cool. In a vacuum, where nothing else at all is happening in the boxing ring from this 40-year-old wonder of leg movement, it’s a meaningless bit of praise.
Showtime’s Mauro Ranallo gave a try at comparing Rigo’s defensive acumen to that of Floyd Mayweather, or Pernell Whitaker. Some segment of the fan base, he said, was surely commenting on how beautiful what Rigo was doing was. Rest assured, Mauro, there is no such segment of the fan base. Whatever the complaints about Mayweather’s work rate, he was orders of magnitude more active offensively in the ring than Rigo was Saturday.
Not even Rigo could have enjoyed what he did on a surface level. Just go for a jog, man, if that’s what you wanna do! Cut out all the “fighting” pretense entirely. It’s only possible he enjoyed it as an act of sadism against the crowd, or an act of masochism to see if he could invoke unanimous frustration toward himself.
To discuss how the fight went other than the ways it made viewers’ eyes bleed, TQBR scored it 115-113 for Casimero, a narrower margin than the two judges who gave it to the Filipino. It should’ve been wider for two reasons: The tumble Rigo took in the 1st round looked like a legitimate knockdown; and and at the end of the 6th, several seconds after the bell, Rigo threw and landed a jab that drew only a warning, rather than the immediate point deduction it should’ve. That wasn’t an act of reaction timing gone awry. That was a deliberate and clear violation of the rules.
While Rigo has proven explosive enough at times to warrant tuning in to see if he bothers, Casimero has generally been all action. Something about the dynamic between the two neutralized both men. Rigo’s footwork, feints, counterpunching and superior control of distance made it hard for Casimero to get any offense going, and he usually only scored when he lunged wildly with combinations. Rigo only landed the occasional counters, but often they were the better punches in any given round. Tough stuff for judges to assess.
Rigo really should just go away after that inversion of the nature of boxing. The flirtations he’s had with embracing the half of the sport that involves actually punching people have been far too brief and too far between. Don’t get fooled again, boxing broadcasters. Casimero wants Nonito Donaire and Naoya Inoue next, in that order (the latter got a middle finger from him in a post-fight interview, for some reason). It’s a fine next prize for either man after their own rematch, and a bout far more fitting for, y’know, fans of boxing.
(Image via CompuBox)