Cuban Olympic Gold Medalist Exudes Class in New York City Debut

Carlos G Giron@@carlosgironnycContributor IIIDecember 17, 2009

Professorial Cuban featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux provides a “boxing lesson” in New York City debut

NEW YORK, NY (December 17, 2009)—It was not entirely spectacular. It was not a thrilling knockout debut in the bright lights of New York City, as perhaps his manager and promoter had wished for. Rather, the impeccably schooled Cuban featherweight, Guillermo Rigondeaux (4-0, 3 KOs), methodically, systematically, and effortlessly defeated a cautious and ill-prepared opponent in his debut appearance in the Big Apple.

The 29-year-old Rigondeaux is a “novice” as a professional—completing only his fourth pro bout last night at BB King’s Blues club in the heart of Times Square—but is a deeply experienced amateur boxer with over 300 bouts.

In fact, “El Chacal” (The Jackal), is two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist (2000 Sydney, and 2004 Athens) with a record of impressive wins over amateur world class fighters from around the globe.

True to his moniker, The Jackal “scavenged” and lithely “hunted” his opponent, a Ghanaian fighter named Lante Addy (6-5-1, 4 KOs), counter-punching and taking control of the fight. The Jackal easily won a unanimous eight-round decision, thoroughly out-boxing, and out-punching the brave and cautious Ghanaian.

Rigondeaux was not upset to unexpectedly have gone the distance against a fighter that literally ran around the ring and seldom engaged in battle. “I come to box, and, in the course of action, if the knockout comes, great. But if it doesn’t than that is fine,” said the skillful and elegant Cuban boxer after the fight. “The most important thing is to box well and to win.”

His mastery of the sweet science is truly beautiful—a thrill to watch to those of us who admire boxers in contrast to brawlers and knockout artists. His measured approach, his coolness and opportunism, makes for a dangerous package for any opponent. He also has good defensive lateral movements and superb ringmanship.

Oh, and his combinations are both lightning fast and accurate. He studies his opponents, measures them and pops combinations at will.

“A case could be made that Guillermo Rigondeaux is the most impressive amateur of all time,” said boxing promoter Lou DiBella, president of DiBella Entertainment, the boxing card organizers. “He has the type of talent that demands being showcased. New York City is the perfect place to get him out in front of the best boxing fans in the world.”

Case almost proven last night, as far as I am concerned.

If a flaw had to be pointed out, perhaps unfairly, as it is based on the observation of only eight rounds of boxing, it could be about his punching power and variety of punches. His punches failed to stun his opponent, and we did not see much variety beyond mostly forehands and jabs.

The Cuban fighter is trained by Freddie Roach, the famed coach currently working with today’s best pound-for-pound boxer, Manny Pacquiao.

Roach said that, given his wealth of amateur experience, the Cuban could probably already beat any of the 126-pound champions. The busy trainer said that Rigondeaux could use one more tune-up pro bout before going for a title fight.

As to his long-term future, besides taking on the obscure lineup of featherweight “alphabet champions,” the biggest “prey” for the masterful Cuban appears to be up in the lightweight division with showdowns that could include Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico, or Edwin Valero of Venezuela. More unlikely, a run at the welterweight division could feature clashes with boxing stars like Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather , or emerging star Amir Khan.

In other action, heavyweight prospect Tor Hamer (8-0, 6 KOs), defeated Mazur Ali (6-5, 3 KOs ) by TKO in the first round. Ali simply refused to continue and was greeted by loud boos from the crowd of more than 800 fans and a look of disgust from Hamer.

Complete boxing card results:

- Guillermo Rigondeaux (4-0, 3 KOs) UD8 (80-71, 80-71, 79-72) Lante Addy (6-5-1, 4 KOs )

- Tor Hamer (8-0, 6 KO) TKO1 (1:38) Mazur Ali (6-5, 3 KOs )

- Gabriel Bracero (8-0) UD6 (60-53, 59-54, 58-55) Carl McNickols (6-2, 2 KOs )

- Luis Del Valle (8-0, 6 KOs) TKO2 (3:00) Noe Lopez (5-5, 4 KOs )

- Christian Martinez (2-0, 2 KOs ) TKO1 (:58) (1-5-1, 1 KO)

Photo credit: Frankie Solis, Jr.