By Ben Jacobs
BoxingScene had the opportunity to talk to highly respected trainer Pedro Díaz following last week’s convincing victory from Guillermo Rigondeaux over Joseph Agbeko. The Cuban discussed Rigondeaux’s win, the reaction from certain fans and his favourite for fighter of the year. Pedro also explained that he is preparing Odlanier Solís for an upcoming bout with experienced American Tony Thompson, and promised fans that they will see a new and improved Solís. In addition, he revealed that he is no longer working with Juan Manuel López after the Puerto Rican had begun some training in Miami with Díaz.
BoxingScene.com: As his trainer, how pleased were you with Guillermo Rigondeaux’s display last week against Joseph Agbeko?
I’m satisfied with Rigo’s performance. In life, there will always be fans that support a certain thing, in any sport. In life, every human being has his own preferences, and nobody can change what you like. Not everyone likes the same style of clothing, or the same type of food, or the same type of car. As an example, not everyone likes the same genre of films in the cinema. It means that not everyone has to like Rigondeaux. But I happen to like Floyd Mayweather’s style, Andre Ward’s style and Rigondeaux’s style. Those three have similar styles and to fight like them you have to have good technique, good tactics, and a lot of intelligence in the ring. And you have to know how to manage space. So all these things together, with the right communication between mind and muscles, can permit you to have these skills. It’s not every day that you see the type of styles of these three boxers, it’s not normal. To fight toe-to-toe in boxing, anyone can do that. To know how to box, not everyone can do that. And that’s why I’m satisfied with Rigondeaux.
To see guys like Mayweather, Ward and Rigondeaux, who are undefeated, with Olympic backgrounds, there isn’t an abundance of boxers with their style. You have to have incredible coordination and know what to do in each moment. For that reason, these great boxers shine and stand out, because they show a style of boxing which is to hit and not get hit. Those who know boxing know that this is true quality.
BoxingScene.com: What are your thoughts regarding some people’s reaction to Rigondeaux, or to those who say he is not a big attraction?
You see that Mayweather and Ward sell tickets, they’re good at marketing, Rigo’s moment will also come. I am his trainer but I do think that he has a great future as a fighter and it’s a luxury to have these three in the sport of boxing. What is not typical in the sport is to have a guy in front of you who wins every round and who doesn’t take a great deal of shots. And as you saw, Rigo finished the 12 rounds with his mouth closed as if he hadn’t even fought, that’s not normal!
For me it was a big honour to be in front of Max Kellerman and Andre Ward on HBO, they are a luxury to have as commentators because it’s not often that you hear commentators who know how to make solid analysis, about technique, with a scientific basis and using statistics as Kellerman and Ward do. So when Kellerman speaks, or when Ward speaks, I listen, because they always have a positive message, or something interesting to study. You’ll never hear me speak badly of a boxer or a trainer, because I believe that we are all a family in boxing and every trainer has his own style. The most important thing is that we all want to win. We all have the same objective, the victory.
BoxingScene.com: Were you surprised at all that Agbeko was so timid given that he is usually a high volume fighter?
Rigondeaux prepared for an Agbeko who would throw a high frequency of punches in every round. That’s how we prepared. What happened was that when Agbeko felt Rigo’s power in the first round, he didn’t want to throw a lot.
BoxingScene.com: Do you believe that Nonito Donaire truly wants a rematch with Rigondeaux as he stated to HBO’s Max Kellerman after his last fight?
I have a lot of respect for Nonito Donaire, and his team. I think Robert García is a great trainer, not only with Nonito but all his fighters. Nonito didn’t expect to find Rigo in the type of condition that he was in the ring. He underestimated him. Nonito knocked him down but Rigo was physically in excellent shape. If Nonito wants a rematch with Rigo, it would be something very good, a classic for world boxing. Nonito was the best fighter of 2012; it would be a good fight.
BoxingScene.com: How do you feel about the people that booed during Rigondeaux’s fight against Agbeko?
They asked me, Pedro, ‘What do you think when Bob Arum said HBO felt like vomiting when they spoke about Rigondeaux,’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s a way for the executives to do their marketing.’
Maybe for the people present in the arena who were booing, maybe it was a way of recognizing Rigo’s quality as a boxer, to recognize a technical boxer. The case is that the language of boxing that Mayweather, Ward and Rigondeaux display, a lot of people who are boxing fans don’t understand it! These people just understand about knockouts, or who is throwing the most, or who is bleeding. So that’s why they booed.
BoxingScene.com: Who should be the 2013 fighter of the year and who are the contenders in your view?
The fact that Rigondeaux beat the best fighter from 2012, in a clear and convincing way, the fact that he beat a champion like Agbeko over the 12 rounds that he did it, I don’t think Rigo has a rival for 2013 fighter of the year, in my view. Danny García is a great prospect for fighter of the year and Adonis Stevenson is an excellent boxer, he’s showed that as well. There are others you could include on the list as well, like Sergey Kovalev and Floyd Mayweather. These are boxers that have showed quality. But we’ll see. Ruslan Provodnikov is another one who has impressed the world, he’s a big talent.