By Miguel Rivera
Veteran Cuban trainer Pedro Diaz has come out in defense of his boxer, two-time Olympic gold medal winner Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs).
Last Saturday night at The Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City, Rigondeaux suffered his first defeat as a pro when he refused to continue fighting beyond the sixth round of his title fight with WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs).
The fight was a historic meeting of two amateur boxing legends, with each fighter capturing a gold medal in two Olympic games.
But the fight failed to even come close to expectations.
Rigondeaux, who was moving up by two weight divisions to take the fight, was dominated in a one-sided contest where the Cuban boxer did more holding than punching.
But at the end of the sixth, Rigondeaux said his left hand had was likely broken and he did not want to continue.
Afterwards, it was revealed by his promoter that his hand was not broken, but simply bruised.
Rigoneaux has taken a lot of heat for the outcome, even from his own fans - who labeled his refusal to fight on as a "quit job."
Diaz argues that he made the overall decision to prevent Rigondeaux from fighting any further in what he admits was a one-sided contest.
"Rigo felt a discomfort in the hand in round two, and we let him continue the fight... this perhaps made him lose his concentration a bit, he could not develop the tactics that we had mapped out with him. Lomachenko throughout the fight showed great effectiveness, but already in the sixth round Rigo was hit with a punch - and when I saw that punch and took a look at everything that was against Rigo, from a technical and a competitive point of view, we decided to take off the gloves and protect Rigo," Diaz stated in a chat with Renato Bermúdez.
"Rigo did not give up.. there is one thing that coaches have to see, which is the appearance of the [fighter], the body language of the [fighter], there are fighters - based on their body language and the look on their face - it can tell you more words than if they were actually talking."
"In this case, we recognize that Lomachenko is a great fighter, Rigo is coming up two divisions, we do not justify the defeat with this... Rigo lost, Lomachenko won and this is what happened. It is better to try to look for the win than to avoid trying for fear of failure. He pursued it, he tried at 130 and he will return to the lower divisions to prove he is a great boxer."