Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Undefeated Cuban maestro Guillermo Rigondeaux found himself in a different country—China—and on a different television network— UniMás—on Saturday, but one thing remained the same: he was booed by the crowd at the end of another fight. Rigondeaux successfully defended a pair of super bantamweight titles by sandblasting sad Sod (Kokietgym) Looknongyantoy at The Cotai Arena in Macao in about as much time as it takes for a roulette wheel to come to a stop. Before the fight, “El Chacal” had promised more action than usual and he delivered, but with a diabolical twist: he knocked the living daylights out of sportsmanship as well as poor Looknongyantoy, scoring a brutal KO in a measly 104 seconds.
Within a minute and a half of the opening bell, Looknongyantoy was writhing on the canvas after an accidental head butt. A woozy Looknongyantoy, 37, struggled to his feet and staggered to a neutral corner, where Referee Mark Nelson hastily assessed him before ordering the action to resume. When Looknongyantoy, from Petchaboon, Thailand, reached out to touch gloves, Rigondeaux gave him a quick fist-bump and then shot a turbocharged right hook-straight left combo that sent the unsuspecting Looknongyantoy plummeting like a man who had forgotten to strap on a parachute at 10,000 feet. Dazed, he somehow managed to rise, but was counted out by Nelson, and—just like that—the fight was over.
Apparently, Looknongyantoy was unfamiliar with the most basic rule of prizefighting: “Protect yourself at all times.” But can you blame him? After all, Looknongyantoy, despite a 63-3-1 record as legitimate as a subprime loan, was last in the ring against a pug making his pro debut. Before that, he went the full route, six rounds, against a fighter with a record of 0-1. How do you say “Palooka” in Thai? Even in boxing, one of the most cynical and corrupt sporting pursuits in the world, you would be hard pressed to find one fighter with over 60 times as many fights as his opponent. Looknongyantoy was not a suitable foe, but give Rigondeaux, 33, credit for sparing the viewing public from his usual mambo routine—even if it took bad manners to do so. What Rigondeaux did was not illegal, but it sure was grimy.
Guillermo Rigondeaux © Gallo Images
Still, in 104 seconds, Rigondeaux, who defected from Santiago de Cuba and now lives in Miami, Florida, showed glimpses of his supernatural talent: he has near-perfect balance and flawless technique. So many contemporary fighters answer the bell completely squared up, crossing their feet, and moving in the wrong direction that seeing Rigondeaux operate is like watching a series of textbook illustrations come to life. His precision and reflexes are extraordinary and he fights with an economy of motion almost alien to the modern boxer. But Rigondeaux, now 14-0 with 9 knockouts, is also overly defensive and too willing to coast to a soundtrack of hisses and jeers. This man, who once drew 375 spectators to a title fight in Nevada, is simply not a crowd favorite.
But for Rigondeaux, usually the Eric Rohmer-type in the ring, this was a Michael Bay performance. Just a little over a year after his biggest win—a dominating but dull decision over Nonito Donaire—Rigondeaux was demoted to tape-delay status on a network best known for airing “Laura,” but he capitalized on his downshift by making the wrong kind of noise, which, in boxing, is worth as much as a chest of Spanish Doubloons. Maybe he will be just as rude next time around as he was on Saturday in Macao. In the end, it may do all of us some good.
Carlos Acevedo is the editor of The Cruelest Sport and a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His work has appeared in Boxing Digest Magazine, Maxboxing, Boxing World Magazine, and Esquina Boxeo.