Tsk, tsk Sod Kokietgym.
I don’t mean to pile on, my good man, but must I be the one to remind you…er, I’m assuming you have heard this one before, being that you debuted as a pro in 2001... “defend yourself at all times.”
You didn’t Sod, and for that, you paid pretty dearly, when you ate that one-two from Guillermo Rigondeaux in round one of your clash at the Cotai Arena in Macau on Saturday.
You might have heard about this ending, which, by the way, is music to the ears of Team Rigondeaux, who on a daily basis have to keep from gnashing their teeth down to enamel dust with the knowledge that they are part of a crew for one of the uppermost talented boxers on the planet, but one who simply doesn’t get sustained love from the suits. Or the paychecks far lesser talented fighters cash on a regular basis mind you…
If you didn’t see the scrap, promoted by Top Rank, and shown in the States on Unimas late Saturday night, it featured two lefties figuring each other out in the first. A most patient and unflappable tactician, the super bantam ace Rigo snapped the jab, landed some crisp lefts, slipped and ducked and moved with swiftness and fluidity early on. The Thai foe looked to land a power left, and as he came in, Rigo too came forward. Their heads clashed and the Thai man went down, to his knees, like he’d been tased. He gestured at his head, trying to tell the ref what happened. He went to a corner, got some extra time, a few extra seconds, though the ref didn’t call for a five minutes or less break to let him get composed. The ref called for action to commence, half-arsedly indicated as much, gestured for the men to re-start the fisticufss, and they did. They went to touch gloves, a universal signal of OK, let’s get that behind us, and carry on…and Rigo drooped the ole tap and smack, or bump and bash, or whatever you want to call it. Both men tapped their lead hands, and the Thai expected the action to re-commence at a more leisurely pace than did Rigo. A split second after the gentleman’s tap, Rigo threw a blinding right hook, followed by a hammer of a left.
Bang, down went the Thai, again, like he’d been tased. This time, he was counted out, as he did reach his feet, but on jelly legs. He complained bitterly to Mark Nelson, but to no avail. The time of the stoppage: 1:44 of round one.
Twitter lit up, with some folks accusing Rigo (now 14-0) of taking the low road. Well, the road taken certaintly wasn’t the high road…but all involved, and all on the sidelines pondering getting involved, and all us mere spectators must know that this is prizefighting, the stakes are high, men will employ whatever slight edge they can to win, and an opponent simply must be on the lookout for corners being cut.
Sod wasn’t told by anyone to touch ‘em up, and for engaging in that bit of in-the-gym-during sparring-sessions sort of nicety, he paid dearly. As with most difficult lessons learned, the price he paid to learn it was stiff. He drops to 63-3-1.
You see that man standing and smiling to Rigo's left? That's his manager, Gary Hyde. I asked Hyde about the controversial ending and what's next for the Cuban cutie. He said, "The finish, which had everyone talking, was just what we wanted."
The genial Irishman told me, when asked if he thinks Rigo won via a cheap shot, "No way."
And next, especially in light of the fact that Top Rank's option to work with Rigo has ended, and he is a co-promotional free agent? "I'm happy with the interest shown by various promoters," Hyde continued, noting that the team from Caribe continues to stand as a co-promoter. "Hopefully we can get a deal which will keep Rigo busy against the right opponent."
"Ideally Leo Santa Cruz," he said. "And how likely are we to get that next? It's up to the powers that be. I will meet with Golden Boy next week."
--- Photo Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV