By Cliff Rold
There’s something about a good body shot knockout, an echo, the expressions. Mike Tyson once said, paraphrasing, that the thing about being stopped to the body is the question of will involved. Caught blind and concussed, a perfect headshot can render one separated from their senses. With a perfect body shot, the senses are on fire with pain.
Now former WBA 122 lb. titlist Rico Ramos (20-1, 11 KO) ultimately succumbed to the pain on Friday night. Who could blame him?
It looked like it hurt.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Ramos B+; Rigondeaux A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Ramos B; Rigondeaux A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Ramos B+; Rigondeaux B+/Post: C+; A
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Ramos B; Rigondeaux B/Post: C; A
At the end of the night, it wasn’t the pain Ramos was left in that stood out most for him. It was the frozen lack of effort through much of the fight. Ramos, after being stunned and dropped in the first, never seemed prepared to take the fight from Cuba’s 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux (9-0, 7 KO).
There was reason for that standing right in front of him. When he wants to be Rigondeaux can be lethal in the ring. Despite a relative lack of pro experience, he’s ahead of the curve of the majority of the fistic field. His defense, predicated on foot position, subtle head movement, and anticipation, is hard to crack. He doesn’t throw enough to provide openings.
He fought all night like he could dispose of Ramos whenever he wanted. He knew it. Ramos knew it. Subsequently, fans got four tedious rounds between the first and sixth, begging a critical question: if Rigondeaux could have finished whenever he wanted, why not do it?
Having to ask is why calls by some fans for Rigondeaux to now go straight to a Nonito Donaire put cart before horse. Winning Ramos’s WBA belt is great, but winning a belt doesn’t mean much these days. It’s too often, at best, a validation of one’s status as top ten in their class. While rated highly by most at Jr. Featherweight coming in, Ramos was a reflection of a division in flux. The chasm between he and division leader Toshiaki Nishioka, the WBC beltholder, was wide.
It’s narrowed with Rigondeuax holding a belt, but still there. Rigondeaux, at 31, need not waste time but he also needn’t be irrationally rushed. Having fought only once in 2011, a couple of defenses against fighters who can make him a little uncomfortable, and press him to open up, would help to create public demand for big fights and better prepare him to win. It would also give him some lacking activity.
Because, no matter how good he looked, with only one twelve round fight under his belt he could still use some seasoning before a challenge of a Nishioka or Donaire. It’s still only two fights ago that he struggled mightily with veteran Ricardo Cordoba.
Rigondeaux is a special talent, the sort of fighter who might be able to beat fighters of their caliber without needing more than nine fights. We may come to find he couldn’t beat them with twenty.
Regardless, more rounds and more fights won’t hurt. Guillermo Rigondeaux has arrived. Now let’s get to know him.
Report Card Picks 2011: 1-0
Cliff’’s Notes…The new NBC Sports show was a solid first outing and the HD quality was excellent…Loved seeing Hector Camacho-Ray Mancini on ESPN Classic Friday night. That was a better fight than it had any right to be…Plum missed it when Cruiserweight Marco Huck came out of the Ring ratings. He shouldn’t have. Historically, men have moved up for fights more times than can be counted and remained rated in the class where they earned their mark. After they go up, they decide whether to stay or not and then the ratings can adjust. Just my two cents…
Middleweight: Paul Williams has made fairly clear he will be continuing at Jr. Middleweight and exits the top ten. He will have a chance to re-enter the ratings at 154 lbs. with a fight against Nobuhiro Ishida.
Jr. Featherweight: Guillermo Rigondeaux makes a strong entry into the top ten. Ryol Li Lee exits after a loss to Shoji Kimura.
Jr. Flyweight: Divisional stalwart Omar Nino exits due to inactivity.
The full ratings update is a click away.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]