Guillermo Rigondeaux

The Cubans Are Coming!

by Fran on July 11, 2013

This post is the result of some gentle nagging by my mate Scottie Hamilton (a great personal trainer and boxing coach, if you are in the Liverpool area then look him up!) Scott prompted me the day after a certain fight to give it the “MyBoxingCoach” analysis treatment. I must admit, of all the things that people can nag at you about, watching and writing a little something about this fight was definitely getting off lightly.

The guys involved in the fight were two superbly skilled fighters, facing off in the Radio City Music Hall in New York. They were contesting 2 titles at super bantamweight and it was a highly anticipated altercation. The champion was Nonito “The Filipino Flash’ Donaire, the guy who many viewed as the natural successor to Manny Pacquiao. The challenger was Guillermo Rigondeaux (AKA The Jackal), one of the greatest ever Cuban performers at amateur level, but largely untested in the professional code. How untested was Rigondeaux? This was his 12th fight; it was Donaire’s 31st. As I said, untested.

But, if you have spent any time on this site then you’ll know that, well, I have a massive respect for Cuban boxing. I never tire of watching the Cuban fighters perform. I’ve written about Cuban fighters (and coaches) on the site before and this is purely a reflection of the fact that I have been mesmerised at their prowess since I was about 10 years of age. The rate of success that Cuba has in the amateur boxing ring is massively disproportionate to the size of the nation; they are truly amazing at producing superstar amateurs. But how would the best Cubans fare in the professional ring? Well, on 13th April 2013 we got a pretty good idea.

In this article I am going to present a walkthrough of the fight. I’m not going to score the fight. I am simply going to watch from start to finish (and give you the link of course) and pour out some observations as the fight progresses. Basically, it’s the same as if we were sitting together and watching the fight over a beer, the only exception being that I cannot flick your ears or do the other annoying things that I do when drinking beer.

There is plenty to enjoy here and I hope that you get as much from this fight as I did. Here is your link and then below are my observations, thoughts and views.

Nonito Donaire vs Guillermo Rigondeaux

Smacks You Right in the Face

Right from the outset (1:00), two things really strike me. Firstly the width of Rigondeaux’s stance and secondly the position of his lead hand. In terms of his boxing stance, it is very wide. Noticeably wider than the stance of Donaire. Now many would see this as unwise as it effectively reduces the Cuban’s height against an already taller opponent. But, that would be to miss the point.

By having this wide stance, Rigondeaux allows himself to execute precise and explosive foot movements, much more explosive than is possible with a narrow stance. He ghosts in and out of range to land his shots and leaves Donaire punching fresh air. We see throughout this bout Guillermo’s amazing footwork, a product of the conveyor belt of Cuban amateur boxing.

In terms of his lead hand, Rigondeaux is a southpaw and Donaire is an orthodox (and a very, very good one). The Cuban keeps his lead hand high and in front of him, with the arm almost fully extended. This hand is in the direct path of the Filipino’s jab, a vital weapon for him. This is distracting and seems to influence Donaire to stay at long range and look at outbox Rigondeaux. It’s a bit of a chess match really, but the Cuban shines in this situation.


At 1:20, we see a tactic that Guillermo applied in his amateur exploits. I cover this in the article Boxing Footwork by the Great Cuban. Watch the first 30 seconds or so of that video and you will see what I mean. This is the essence of Rigondeaux, a deadly and crushing fighter in the guise of a slick mover. Mobility and power combined to provide a platform for chaos! What shot provides the bulk of the attack? It’s that superb back hand, a shot that we see used consistently during his encounter with Nonito Donaire.

Get Shorty!

As I have mentioned, the main argument against having a wider stance is that it results in you losing height. Rigondeaux is quite a bit shorter than Nonito to begin with, so on the face of it surely the last thing he wants to do is further reduce his height. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

Well, in the mind of the Cuban, exactly the opposite seems true. Whilst Guillermo may or may not have a comparable arm length to that of Donaire, it’s his responsive stance, appreciation (to the millimetre) of his distance from Donaire and the explosive foot movements that seal it for me. Look at 1:58, at how close Rigondeaux keeps his lead foot to that of the Filipino’s. He is constantly probing, testing, seeking to draw the lead and counter with his own punches.

In very basic terms, this 1st round provides lots of evidence of the Rigondeaux strategy and his belief in himself. He fancies himself as faster and smarter than his foe, and height has nothing whatsoever to do with it. The size difference to me seems greater than the 2 inch height differential quoted in the ‘tale of the Tape’ at the start of the fight; Donaire just looks so big. Rigondeaux has to be certain of his strategy, because one wrong move and Nonito absolutely can put him to sleep. An honourable mention in this round, take a look at the lead hand hook at 3:33 from the Cuban. Great shot.

The Southpaw Staple

Popular belief for the southpaw fighter is that it’s wrong to move to his left. The reason for this is that he moves into the powerful right hand of the orthodox opponent. But throughout this bout, Guillermo moves to his left and (theoretically) into the powerful back hand of Nonito. Or does he?

For me, the Cuban is the smartest of southpaws. He moves to his left lots, tempting Donaire to unleash the right hand. For an example of this movement, look at 5:10. There really is lots of evidence of this movement throughout. But, don’t be fooled. He is moving to his left and into the Donaire ‘strike zone’, but he is also moving ever so slightly away. It’s difficult to spot but he is doing so and this is critical to his strategy. Whilst Rigondeaux is applying this movement, it is very difficult for Nonito to know whether the Cuban is in range or not. It causes hesitancy, doubt and confusion as to whether to unleash his big right hand.

Just for a bit of insurance though, Guillermo keeps his left hand virtually welded to the side of his face. Not worth taking unnecessary risks against a danger man like Donaire.

Strength and Deterrent

Donaire is super strong, of that there is no doubt. He possesses great physical strength and frightening power in his punches. So, if I were working with Rigondeaux I would want him to achieve two things. Firstly, I’d want him to make it very difficult for Nonito to land his shots, to make his punch power tell. Secondly I would want him to provide a deterrent to Donaire simply ploughing forward looking to overrun the defences of the Cuban. What could be simpler 😐

There are a  number of tactics that Rigondeaux uses to achieve the two aims (aside from his basic southpaw approach as described above). Firstly, he uses lots of angles. Look at 11:13 where the Cuban uses the lead hand hook combined with the pivot to smash home a scoring punch and leaving Donaire punching fresh air. The pivot simply takes Rigondeaux out of the strike zone. He uses the pivot regularly to prevent Donaire from targeting him with any success.

Another tactic that Rigondeaux uses, although he does not over use it, is the simple approach of backing away only to unleash a perfectly timed and highly venomous counter punch. At 11:44, Rigondeaux times the back hand so well in a display of textbook counter punching, packing in enough ‘hurt’ to keep Donaire concerned enough not to simply seek to overwhelm the Cuban. These punches hurt. He backs away, conserving his strength and picks the time and place for the battle. The perfect guerrilla tactics from Guillermo!

Fight Your Fight

As a boxer, getting an opponent to fight YOUR fight rather than the fight he/she would prefer is always a great strategy. The tactics used by Rigondeaux to deal with the strength of Donaire actually force the Filipino to attempt to fight on the Cuban’s terms. Donaire is basically forced to try to outbox as consummate a boxer as you will ever meet.

At 17:17 it’s worth recognising the classic stance, lead hand in the incoming ‘channel’ along which Rigondeaux could expect the Donaire jab to travel. This in many ways is the classic amateur boxing style stance. As the fight progresses, it becomes more and more apparent to me that many of the boxing style traits that Guillermo used to achieve great success in the amateur ring are being applied in the professional ring.

We also see from this point on, 5 rounds into the fight, that Rigondeaux knows he is in charge and therefore shows no great urgency to land the first shot. Donaire stays at range, does not seek to chase down the Cuban. The question for me why is this? The answer is likely to be twofold. Firstly is the small matter of the fearsome counter punches that Rigondeaux has been hammering home with terrifying accuracy and regularity. Secondly though is the fact that Donaire could be thinking that the second half of the fight is his. Surely Rigondeaux cannot nullify the Donaire style for 12 whole rounds…can he?

The Tipping Point

So it’s the 6th round and we are heading into the 2nd half of the fight (21:05). I’m pretty sure that Donaire and his corner team feel that from this point forward he should be taking a greater level of control over the fight. The problem is that Donaire needs to be positive and direct but quite simply he is not. He is way behind and simply does not take steps to begin the process of clawing that lead back. In all departments Rigondeaux is coming out on top. Donaire is being out-speeded, out-punched and out-maneuvered and if something doesn’t change then he is going to lose his belts, period.

Now that we have reached the ‘tipping point’ in the fight and the pressure is on the Filipino to take the initiative, I think that it makes sense to now make a round by round assessment of the action. I actually found the second half of the fight very interesting, let’s see if you do too.

Round 7

As we have discussed already, it’s fairly safe to assume that by now Donaire is getting a bit ‘twitchy’. It is very important that for his own psychological well-being he makes some in-roads into the Cuban’s lead. Being the solid champion that he is, Donaire does exactly that. at 25:52 he powers home a short left hook to the body followed by a left hook to the head. The interesting thing is that Rigondeaux does very little here. In fact, all that can be said is that he maintains a jab but precious little else. So Nonito moves up through the gears and the Cuban does not respond, probably due to the fact that he knows that he has such a major lead on the cards.

Round 8/9

Round 8 seemed to be taken by both fighters as a temporary armistice. Some flashy moves from the Cuban but nothing with any real bite. Donaire in turn has taken the foot of the gas, but being the champ if I were to score this round it would go to the champ. Round 9 provides a couple of talking points. The first is at 34:50 where the Cuban lands a textbook back hand uppercut. Donaire presses on (he’s a very impressive champion) but we still see Guillermo confuse the the Nonito attack with the gentle and highly effective movement to his left (throughout the round but observable at 35:07). Highlight of the 9th though is that uppercut, one for the purists among us!

Round 10

An interesting start to the round (37:16), with Donaire in an aggressive move launching a big left hook at the start following. Shortly after this then Rigondeaux loses his balance slightly, hits the ‘brick wall’ of Nonito Donaire and crashes to the canvas with a crash that would grace any wrestling match. Obviously it’s not a knockdown (unlike later in the round) but it does re-emphasise to me the very significant difference in physical strength between the two boxers. If I needed either of these guys to help me push a broken down car, I’d ask Donaire.

At 37:58 though, Donaire lands an outstanding left hook that drops Rigondeaux clean. Credit the tough Cuban though he’s up quickly and back into the fray. The thing here that gets me thinking is the fact that so much of Rigondeaux is about his speed and his reflexes. I do wonder about the effective shelf-life of the guy at this weight. He is 32 years of age so in real terms, at the weight he’s at, I question how long he can remain at the top. Just a thought.

Round 11/12

Throughout the 11th, the footwork of Rigondeaux continues to inspire. Mobility is central to Rigo’s success as we have seen, and even here in the penultimate round of a tough fight he’s able to glide around the ring bemusing his opponent all the way. It’s basically ballet interspersed with moments of Wolverine-like ferocity.

The 12th and final round is a sight to behold, and it’s Donaire’s very own Cuban Missile Crisis as Rigondeaux unleashes one precise back hand ballistic projectile after another. Check out 45:23 for a beautiful example of how to bring an opponent onto a straight back hand, using all of Donaire’s power and body weight against him.

Rigondeaux is the aggressor even though he has to be way ahead on the score cards (although it’s debatable as to whether I agree with Lederman’s card, seems a bit excessive to say the least). At 46:10, check out the lead hand long range hook coupled with the pivot and finished off with a straight back hand. That’s feinting, angles and counter punching in one instinctive passage of boxing skills.

Amateurs and Professionals…What Next?

I often read threads on forums messages that suggest a level of contempt for amateur boxing. It appears that some feel that the professional boxing ring is the only place that matters and that the amateurs are simply a sanitised pastime not worthy of being spoken of in the same conversation.

This attitude for me is an ignorant way of viewing the relationship between the two sports. For the record, for the most part I really quite dislike attending professional boxing matches. I often find the crowd ignorant, overly-aggressive and disrespectful to one or both of the fighters. I tend not to encounter this at amateur boxing matches. Or maybe I’m just becoming over-sensitive in my old age.

Without amateur boxing though, professional boxing would be a very different place. The amateur boxing system (including the coaches) spends years developing young boxers, honing aspects of their style to make them as good as they can be. For the chosen (and very determined) few, the step into the paid ranks is taken and from there professional trainers work with them on the tactics, style adaptations and strategies that are inherently different in the professional ring. But by then, their core skills-base and their ability to ‘learn by doing’ in the boxing ring are firmly established.

I think that Rigondeaux’s performance demonstrates this, probably in a more obvious way than his professional contemporaries. Most of the skills demonstrated by Guillermo are exactly the skills that led him to dominate in the amateurs, it’s just that now he maintains those skill levels for 12 rounds rather the 3 or 4 round amateur distance.

In my mind there is absolutely no doubt that the best Cuban amateurs could turn professional and prosper. I suppose you could argue that Rigondeaux is a very special fighter and that not all Cubans possess his level of skill, and that’s fine. But, I could raise another bunch of names of the Cuban conveyor belt who I believe could have competed on a par with the best fighters the professional ring had to offer. In fact, I could raise a bunch of names of top amateurs from Eastern Europe/Asia who could dominate too.

I believe that if the ‘walls came down’ and Cuban fighters were allowed to box professionally (accepting that they have signed up to perform in the quasi-professional World Series Boxing code), then there would be a mixture of very excited promoters and pro boxers who thought they’d left those darned Cubans back in the amateurs.

As always, any thoughts/challenges/observations/rants would be welcome below.



PS – If you want to see a little more Cuban brilliance, check out these articles:

Mario Kindelan – The Cuban Master

Boxing Drills Cuban Style

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt September 20, 2013 at 10:55 am

Hi Fran

One peculiar thing I notice about Rigondeaux in a number of his fights, including this one, is the way he holds his lead arm. He sometimes neither holds it high, straight and long, nor low down like Zab Judah or Mayweather. Instead, he seems to hold his lead arm bent at a 90 degree angle at the elbow, with the shoulder roughly at chest or shoulder height. It basically looks as though he’s ‘holding’ the position you’d see someone in demonstrating a lead hook. You can see it here if you look closely at around 4:50 onwards, and at one point he even uses his forearm, bent in this manner, to block several jabs from Teon Kennedy. Any thoughts on that?


Fran September 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Well spotted Matt. It’s a really effective block you’ve spotted from the smartest of operators. A key advantage, and a bit naughty as well really, is the fact that it’s very easy for those jabs to land on the elbow of Rigondeaux. That could do quite some damage to the hand 🙂


Matt September 27, 2013 at 11:37 am

Yeah, it’s a peculiarity I noticed a few times. What’s I find more interesting though, is what he does off of it and how he uses it to open up counters. He sort of turns the ‘parry the opponents jab down’ on its head. What I mean is, when he uses that ‘elbow’ block, as it lands he parries his opponents lead up from underneath, instead of staying on top of his jab and parrying down. On a couple of instances, I’ve noticed this either leaves the opponent’s body open for that straight left hand, or sometimes turns his opponents body into him, leaving the left side of his jaw open for the right hook.

Actually another couple of fights where I’ve seen this technique used is Mayweather vs. Shambra Mitchell and Mayweather vs. DeMarcus Corley. In the Shambra fight, Jim Lampley even comments that he uses the forearm and shoulder in this way almost as ‘a shield’ to advance behind and close Mitchell down. In the DeMarcus Corley fight, ‘chop chop’ must have caught on to the technique because at one point in the fight you even see him deliberately smashing down, using a hammer fist on Mayweather’s elbow to bring it down.

Do you think it’s a good technique in a mirrored stance situation between orthodox and southpaw? I can’t say I’ve ever seen either fighter use it against fighters with the same lead.


Fran September 30, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Hey Matt

Good comment, you obviously ‘look below the surface’ when watching your boxing 🙂

As for that defence, yes it could work southpaw/orthodox. Truth is though I wouldn’t particularly coach an amateur boxer to adopt this defence for regular use whereas for a pro I probably would. It’s a question of the pace of the fight and in the amateurs a ref would likely take a dim view of sticking the elbow out.


Ed Lee August 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi Fran!

I love your work in, in mainly the fighter analysis. I have one sugestion for you: i know how must be hard make it, but i will love if you make a fighter analysis about classic fighters, like Sugar Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Muhammad Ali, Jersey Joe Walcott, Rocky Marciano, Ezzard Charles, and others. I know that will be much more complicated, but it’s only a idea.

Anyway, congratulations for this superb knowledge!


Fran August 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Thanks Ed. that’s a great suggestion.


tyler August 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

You’ve made some decent points right now there. I looked on the internet for your issue and found most individuals go along with using your website.


Paul Smith July 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I like to have chicken wings or sushi with my beer when watching a match, but welcome back regardless Coach!

The Donaire vs. Rigondeaux bout was a great technical fight to watch from that perspective and your analysis proves that point Fran.

The way Guillermo handled Nonito was superb. Too bad some spectators and Donaire fans couldn’t appreciate the fine lesson in Sweet Science that was on display. Comments were made by some people that Rigondeaux ‘ran’ and ‘fought like a chicken’, but I prefer to think that ‘he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day’ — as Champion!

Some folks prefer to see a bloody brawl with two bulls goring each other and although that may seem exciting, it is dangerous. Good boxers are supposed ‘to make ’em miss and then make ’em pay’, to avoid danger. That’s why I believe if someone’s going to be a fighter; it’s better to think like a matador, so as to not get slaughtered like a bull.



Fran July 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Couldn’t put it better myself Paul. I’d love for the mainstream audience to ‘get’ boxing. But, the desire for outright aggression and bloodlust I fear will always win out. I suppose I can hope.

I’m with you, let’s coach boxers the matador-style. If they need to turn into the bull then hopefully they can do so with some smarts alongside it!


Ivan July 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Time for fun now. Rigondeaux’s wide stance in fact increased his range and let him reach further than Donaire, who had longer arms. It increased the Cuban’s punching range and his defensive range as well, letting him bend safely away without having to move his feet. His footwork is typical for the Cuban school, moving on toes when he wants speed, stepping firmly with punches when he wants impact. Donaire stepped heel first with his front foot, “applying the brakes”, and he could never cut down the Cuban and press him to the ropes like his corner loudly demanded. GR’s lead hand was down keeping ND guessing, but the shoulder was up.
GR appeared to move in the ‘wrong” direction because he was looking to position himself centrally against the guard of the champion, with a clear view roughly between his opponent’s forearms. He adjusted his range and worked from that position. ND was outclassed by the underdog from the first minute.
Like a solid amateur GR did not let ND in the fight at all for the first 3 rounds. Donaire landed his first good right hand in the end of the 3rd.
In the 4th GR slowed a little , took the snap out of his shots and started goofing around, trying to make a fool out of ND. When he made a reference to the shoulder roll and brought his elbow up in the 4th, I started rooting a little bit for ND to do better and he slightly wobbled GR with a left hook. Then Rigondeaux used body shots for the first time to contain ND’s momentum.
After the 7th, ND realised he needed desperate measures to turn it around and maybe a knock out to win. He went after GR who did not mind it at all, he outclassed the champ and goofed around as he pleased. He cruised from the 4th to the 10th, when he went down after getting too relaxed up close. He sprang back up like a yo yo and took over, this time going into “seek and destroy” mode. He decided to physically destroy ND and didn’t care that he was ahead on points. That’s the boxing spirit. Rigondeaux did not waste a single movement, everything he did was punch-oriented. His punch output and connection rate in the 12th were staggering.
Throughout the fight, Rigondeax neutralized Donaire’s best weapons, the jab and the right cross, seemingly “by design” with choosing the right position and angle. He also landed as he pleased for the same reason. What surprised me is that very little body shots were thrown on either side. GR’s wide stance pretty much precludes anything but hooks to the side (liver and floating ribs). I could not believe Donaire did not go to the body. His corner should have seen that venue instead of loudly reminding him he had a family. Do it for the homeless if you like, but do something sensible. These corners make laugh so often, they keep me entertained b/n rounds.


Fran July 17, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Outstanding Ivan. Excellent insight there, particularly on the positioning on the ‘line of sight’ principle through the guard to allow those spear-like back hands. Really didn’t occur to me that particular element. I do hope people read these comments following the article.


wee den December 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Ivan is right to focus on the advantages of adopting the wide stance displayed by Rigondeaux. Cuban boxers have always boxed off wide stances, it is a hallmark of ‘the Cuban style’ that goes all the way back to Kid Chocolate in the 1930’s. You can see footage of Kid Chocolate on youtube at: ..and it is uncanny how similar Kid Chocolate and Rigondeaux’s styles are.


Fran December 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Just lost meself in that vid Den, just sublime. Thanks mate.


Ivan July 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Nice fight to discuss and a you hit the nail on the head with the amateur-pro discrimination. The word amateur has a different meaning when applied to boxing and some “experts” refuse to wake up to that. They are the amateurs in the true sense because they profoundly misunderstand the sport.
Amateur boxing is the cradle of boxing, it’s like a huge database, a main server that stores and develops all boxing knowledge. It has a technique and style for everyone’s build, height, arm length, muscle type, personality. Everything from pro boxing is also contained in the amateur style, and there is much more in it. There is amateur stuff that is not sustainable in a long pro fight. In short, the professional style is an abbreviated pragmatic version of the amateur style and a professional 12 round fight is an amateur 3 round fight in slow motion. There is a difference in conditioning, intensity, strategy (game plans), glove size and other stuff related to the difference in boxing for 9 minutes and boxing for 45 minutes. To keep my runt from getting too long, I’d say the technical side is fundamentally the same for both codes and failing to understand that can result in failing to understand boxing at all.


Ivan July 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

12 rounds is 36 minutes. 45 minutes is what true champions had to train for back in the day.


Fran July 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Superb, I’d like to print this comment and frame it. Thanks Ivan, very succinct and persuasive.


Gary July 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Excellent review as always Fran. Your review really makes you appreciate that there is more going on in that ring than two guys trying to beat each other up. Your review should be included as a training module for judging fights as I think it would pay off (I agree with Alex). Teddy Atlas rates Rigondeaux as the greatest amateur boxer of all time. Looking forward to your review of Mayweather and Alvarez (any predictions).


Fran July 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Thanks Gary, really appreciate that (btw, I think Teddy Atlas has one of the smartest boxing minds ever, so if he says that about Rigo then I’ll not be arguing).

Mayweather vs Alvarez, I think that Canelo whilst a superb fighter might be too much of a ‘conventional’ fighter to defeat Mayweather. I think that a very versatile fighter is needed to beat Floyd and I don’t think Alvarez is that fighter.

Really looking forward to it though 🙂


Alexander July 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Hi Fran, after my last post, I realised I missed, a key point I wanted to make, about the video.

Yes, Rigondeaux, in the early rounds, like a classic long range jabber, on a few occasions, held his Jab high, reaching, touching and tapping, his opponents gloves. Taunting and measuring up for the Cross to follow. How many greats have we seen doing this. Such as Hitman Tommy Hearns, whose mesmerising Jab was called the Cobra.

Yet, one of my favourites boxers in the WSB series, a great jabber, cockily, did just this, and was checked for ‘blocking his opponents view’. That as far as I could see, from the Ref’s gesture. That on its own, would influence many judges to give his opponent a 10/9 advantage straight off. Ridiculous as far as I am, concerned.

It’s the same with the rule against any use of the Ropes. Many good ‘counter jabbers’ will run rings round some opponents, and let them chase them back onto the ropes, before neatly slipping and turning them onto the ropes. Why should that be a foul, and mark off as a 10/9 to other.

These WSB Rules, which are the AIBA, and AB England Rules I believe, are protecting the aggressive battlers and penalising the skilful boxers. A line of thought which is also supporting super fitness over basic skills. With ‘athletic coaches’ training Boxers as if they were sprinters, bursting out of their corners, for short a short explosive bursts of energy, over 3 x 3 minutes. Oblivious to the finesse of the highly skilled Offensive/Defensive Boxer, who nullifies the aggression of his opponent,controls the fight, and turns it to their own advantage.

If these were the Rules in a Bullfight, the Bull would always win, and the matador would never side step the charge. So I say to the Jabbers, step it up a bit, more strength to your Jab, start breaking noses, in and out, and hope the Rules don’t change to make that a foul.

Okay Fran, got that off my chest, won’y say any more on this. AlexL


Fran July 17, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Hi Alex

Great to hear from you again and as always you’ve provided me much food for thought.

Very interesting to hear you assessment of WSB and the scoring system that comes along with it. I’ve not watched a massive amount but what I have seen it’s been very interesting.

There is always going to be a very subjective element to boxing. What really interests me is the idea of what the ‘professional’ approach of aggression and work rate might have on the elite amateur boxers.

I have a theory you see, and it relates to the decline of super-successful US amateurs since the introduction of computerised scoring. On the old days when the ’20 point’ scoring system was in the amateurs, the professional style of the Americans suited perfectly.

Lots of the top amateurs, particularly from the US, applied the ‘professional’ approach of big shots and aggression. This brought great success. Because the US amateurs trained with the Pros (with a view to ultimately becoming Pro) this put them in a great position.

However, my view is that under computerised scoring the stand-up, clean shot, back-foot wizards seem to do much better. So, elite amateurs were then trained specifically to go for that style. But, it seems that this didn’t happen in the US system. Being trained with the principles of a Pro style actually appears to have been to the detriment of the US amateurs.

Now though, the computer ‘points’ scoring has gone and the fact is aggression could make a big comeback. I like to think though that a slick boxer who dominates even on the back foot will be given the nod. It’s the close rounds where true subjectivity can come in (and I think that you make that point).

As George Foreman once said “Boxing is like jazz. The better it is, the less people appreciate it.”

Thanks Alex, I think I need to put some articles on the recent AIBA changes.


Alexander July 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Hi Fran, nice hearing from you again. I am going to watch this video again. And read your analysis. As usual you get me thinking. Especially on this question of Amateur versus Professional stereotype.

Recently I have had a particular interest in the WSB scene. I like it a bit. With a particular interest in a few of the Scots boys. And good access to ‘on line’ re-runs of fights. Which, I have used to get up to speed with (the knew to me) 10 point scoring system.

And as an avid fan of long range boxers, and those who can control, the strong aggressive charging sluggers, from the periphery of the ring, rather than holding the central ground. By good footwork, lateral slipping, brain work, off the back foot, and with stinging jabs. I think these boxers are being disadvantaged by how Judges are applying, the standards.

In a nutshell, when a round has been probably, near equal, like 10/10. It seems the slugger is being favoured and given the margin, 10/9 on the basis of a biased view of Effective Aggression. In my view. Not fair. And in the Amateur set up off only 3 rounds, it don’t leave much room to redress that.

My personal advice to some ‘long range’ boxers in this set up. Is that they must not, just sit back and dominate the other fighter, or goad them to chase them, by superior skills. Or they are likely to be marked down. In every round, they are going to have to take centre ring at some point, and punch aggressively, brawn over brain, rather than just skilfully.

Ok, you might say. But for Boxers taking part in tournaments spread out over a few days, and a number of different bouts, one of the key strategies, is to take it easy in the early stages, or against boxers not as good as you. And not burst a ‘blood vessel’.

They should not be competing with terminology such as Effective Aggression, better maybe use Effective Domination. The sweet science. Or maybe I am missing other broader differences such as Eastern European versus Cuban style?

Maybe, I am just biased Fran. I have never liked that word Aggression. I came into Boxing to confront that, not be judged on lack of it’. What you think.


Scottie Hamilton July 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

PS: The rest of my day off will mostly include watching Cuban boxing genius!


Scottie Hamilton July 12, 2013 at 11:10 am

I’ve just posted this to Facebook & Twitter Fran mate & ‘tagged’ 98 friends who I thought would be interested in this great article & your site! Watching the fight again now whilst reading your round by round analysis!

Ok, it took him a while but my friend & ‘old’ coach Franny Sands has completed his MyBoxingCoach article on the April 2013 Super Bantamweight World Title (WBO/WBA) fight between Guillermo Rigondeaux & Nonito Donaire Jr. (For the full article & many more, check out
Fran breaks down the fight, as always round by round & makes his passion for amateur boxing & the great Cuban amateurs very clear!! If you are one that believes the ‘pro game is were its at!’ Please read Frans summary below….

Amateurs and Professionals…What Next?
(your full summary follows)

Thanks mate


Fran July 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Thanks mate, glad the article has hit the mark. He is an absolute marvel, just sublime.

Cheers pal, appreciate the support.


Terry July 11, 2013 at 11:27 pm

G/day Fran,I watched this fight live a while back and really enjoyed watching Rigondeaux “thinking”his way around a very tough and formidable opponent.As Dave said also mate,good to see you back amongst it and I look forward to your next analysis.We have become very busy at work lately and I have my hands full as well but I have completed a few more drawings that I will send on for your interest shortly.Regards Terry.


Fran July 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Thanks Terry, glad that you’ve enjoyed the fight and article. Great news that you’re busy, the same goes for me too! Look forward to the drawings mate.


nooby July 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm

great review of the fight and its a shame there are too few instructional videos for southpaws to watch (more so if you are a short southpaw like me) so if you could do some then it would be great as I feel southpaws get discriminated against because most trainers only teach the orthodox way and tell us to “just switch everything around” which to me is unfair however this at least has gave me a few ideas so thanks for breaking the fight down and I would love to see the Cubans fight professionally as a country.


Fran July 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Thank you for your comment. I actually really enjoy working with southpaws (even though I joke with them that they are bloody awkward!) A fast, strong, hard-punching southpaw, who knows how to use the benefits of being a southpaw, is superb to watch and incredibly effective. There’s lots of stuff for southpaws on the site, here’s a few to get you started:


Dave Waterman July 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Welcome back, Fran. I’ll make a longer comment later, but just wanted to leave this now.


Fran July 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Thanks pal. Been working hard but hopefully now I can get some more content up. Look forward to your thoughts mate.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: