Guillermo Rigondeaux is one of the most technically gifted fighters in present-day boxing. Known by his moniker “El Chacal” which refers to Jackal in English. Rigondeaux moves like a Jackal.
His ability to switch from light-footed slow movement into the explosive assault is simply a treat to the eye.
Rigondeaux has this unorthodox style where instead of being dependent upon his head movements, he using amazing and variable footwork and change of levels to be defensively evasive and offensively active.
El Chacal is known throughout the boxing world for his unprecedented footwork, reflexes, punching speed, counterpunching abilities which makes him extremely difficult to get caught.
However, it’s not just offensive, defensively he is one of the most gifted fighters in the world. He has cat-like reflex with tremendous agility and ring knowledge. What distinguishes Rigondeaux is that he hardly strikes cleanly and always aims to push through the body of his opponents.
Excellent Strategy. Enough of the introduction and trait discussion, let’s discuss in-depth about Rigondeaux boxing strategies which every boxer should learn from.
Rigondeaux’s most versatile weapon is, in fact, his lead hand. A lot of people point out that he doesn’t use the jab too often. However, they are misled as Rigo uses his lead hand for much more than just a jab. With the help of his lead hand, he is successfully able to establish a rhythm, occupy his opponent, distract, block, blind and even counter his opponent much like what we studied in the Mayweather Boxing Strategies.
If you see in the clip above, Rigo establishes predictable rhythms using his lead hand and then breaks his opponent’s rhythm by launching an offense with the straight left hand. His ability to develop predictable rhythm using his left hand and then simultaneously break the rhythm is one of the reasons why he’s able to land so many strikes. By maintain the tempo and speed, he is able to launch a flurry of punches in quick succession. His high striking percentage can be topped by only a handful of boxers.
In the clip below you can see what a lot of people say he isn’t good at i.e. using his lead hand. The visuals below will speak otherwise. He uses his lead hand effectively to check, block or parry a jab to his body by simply using the lead hand. He does so while maintaining the defensive guard as he keeps the left hand close to his chin and does not drop it.
See how Rigo pre-occupies his opponent Amagasa with a lead hand. Herein, his opponent is expecting a shot to his head. However, Rigo tricks Amagasa and instead shoots the straight left to his body.
In the clip below, you can see Rigo establishing the punching range, measuring his distance from the opponent whilst establishing a predictable rhythm. As mentioned earlier, note how he is following a constant tempo and speed every time he shows that lead hand to his opponent. Since he is using the lead hand often to keep his opponent in check, it’s pretty easy for him to use it to block/check a conventional boxer’s left hand with his right hand. He uses this lead hand as a shield. He can block both low or high.
In the clip below you can see, Rigo using his lead hand to pin Amagasa’s left glove to his face before he shoots the straight left hand.
Weight Shift & Defense
Rigondeaux is one of the very few fighters who have perfected the ability to shift weight from his lead foot to his back foot for defensive and offensive purposes.
If you see in the clip above, Rigo’s weight is evenly distributed on both feet which are bent and relaxed at the same time. He bends at the knees to provide a structural balance for his quick evasive movements. This position allows him to spring to the next position from the current one. The key here is to keep the knees bent and relaxed. Rigid knees will always come in the way of fluid motion.
As Amagasa is charging on him, Rigo shifts his weight to the back foot. Rigo’s holding his position and as sitting into the neutral plane. This allows him to slip Amagasa’s jab. He follows it up with stepping back and as we know DISTANCE IS DEFENSE. By moving back, he is able to create space and thus evade that left hook by Amagasa.
Complete Punch Feints & Offense
One of the very few fighters to utilized complete punch feints i.e. throws an entire punch as he feints it. These are trademark Rigo’s feints. He is able to deliver these feints by shifting his weight to one side of his body before delivering the punch.
In the clip below you can see Rigondeaux fake the straight left hand repeatedly. One thing to note here is that whether you throw the punch or not, you still shift the weight. Rigo, in this example below, has shifted his weight over to the right side of his body by using straight left-hand feint. As soon as you see that, you can make out that his right side is gearing up to deliver an extremely powerful punch. And so, he does! An extremely devastating uppercut which carries tremendous power due to Rigo’s shifting of weight from the left to the right side of his body as he was performing full punch feints before.
Turning your opponents off their left jabs
This might look like an easy move but is one of the most advanced moves in Rigo’s arsenal. If you’re a southpaw just starting your journey, you shouldn’t even try this in the ring of sparring. Once, you have enough experience under your belt, only then do I recommend you to try this strategy. In this technique, Rigo moves by slipping on the inside of his opponent’s jab, ducks to pre-emptively avoid a right cross and then performs a 180-degree pivot turn out to his left to turn his opponent. This might look like a cakewalk but carries huge risk and as a beginner with Southpaw stance, this risk is not worth taking for you.
In this clip below, you can see Rigo employing this technique against Joseph Agbeko. You can see how Agbeko shoots his jab and Rigo slips the jab and gets low but is turning at the same time. The danger here is that if he doesn’t time his pivot right, he is entirely exposed to Agbeko’s right hand. How does he successfully pivot? By moving his left leg forward and completes the 180-degree turn. The key in this technique is to duck extremely low so as to be able to make the opponent miss his right even if he attempts it.
Countering the left jab whilst slipping to the outside
Marroquin shoots his left jab, to which Rigo slips to the outside and simultaneously shoots the left cross which catches his opponent and then he finishes him off with a powerful right hand. Remember, slipping to the outside of the jab is a much safer option than slipping to the inside of the jab. If you see the clip above, there’s no delay between the slipping and the consequent punches. You have to do that simultaneously. You can see Rigo generating maximum power and momentum by rotating his hips and punching through his target. BOOM!
Similar to the example above, in this clip below, you can see Rigo using his lead hand for blinding mechanism. He can also read that Donaire is getting mentally frustrated by this move. Thus, Donaire changes his levels to get past the lead. It’s an excellent move from Donaire, and he feints the right cross to the body. Now soon after that, he intends to shoot what looks like a left cross-cum-jab.
The fascinating thing to notice here is that Rigo watches him all the way and is able to successfully launch a counter. He does so by moving to the outside and plants a powerful left to Donaire’s face. NOW IMAGINE IF YOU WERE DONAIRE. So much work, so much movement to get rid of your opponent’s left hand. However, as soon as you make it past it, you find yourself being countered effectively. Simply frustrating for Donaire, simply fascinating from Rigondeaux.
Excellent weight transfer and power generation
These are some extensive advanced techniques that we’re learning from Rigondeaux here. Rigo counters with powerful straight left hand i.e. a left cross. And this just shows how diversified Rigondeaux skillset is. In the clip below you can see how Rigo rolls his jab off his right shoulder. You can see, as soon as Rigo senses an attack, he transfers his weight onto the left side of his body whilst rolling his opponents punch. And as soon as he does that, he expertly and beautifully transitions the weight from the left to the right whilst landing a crunching straight left onto his opponent’s face. He is able to do so with a combination of successful foot movements and transfer of body weight from one side to the other. Simply Amazing by Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Exceptional Defensive Techniques
Having seen some excellent punches, setups, and counters, let us now look at the defensive side of Guillermo Rigondeaux. These are some general techniques, basic distancing, pivoting and turning which, you can use to defend yourself. These are evasive techniques which anyone can employ based upon where they are in their boxing journey.
Let’s start with the staple Rigondeaux technique i.e.
180-degree Pivot Turn
In order to perform this move, you need to step your back leg forward as seen in the tutorial couple of paragraphs above. Then pivot your lead foot at a 180-degree angle so it faces the opposite way.
In this clip below, you can see Donaire shoots his right cross. Rigondeaux ducks that offense and pivots his lead foot to 180-degrees and this is how he performs the pivot turn. While doing so, he ensures that he maintains balance at all times.
If you’ve seen his fight with Lomachenko, you can see Loma using the same techniques to overpower Rigondeaux. In our Lomachenko boxing strategies guide, we’ve mentioned how Loma uses a similar technique to evade his opponent and counter whilst he’s on the move.
Ducking and changing levels of the highest order
In this clip above, you can see Rigondeaux against Donaire and it’s simply a mockery. As Rigondeaux is right in front of him and Donaire is trying everything he possibly can to connect with his opponent. However, he’s merely able to land a single punch. Boxing is not just about guys who can hit extremely hard but also about the extreme sharpness in defense which can give chills to your opponent and make their lifetime of hard work, shambolic. Defensive Masterclass from Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Countering Lead Foot Dominance
Lead Foot Dominance refers to, when opponents are in an opposite stance, one fighter steps their lead foot to the outside of the opponents as we saw in James Toney Case Study. This provides a fighter with an advantageous position because it’s easy to hit and is extremely hard to get hit by your opponent. Rigondeaux similar to other top boxers nullifies attempts at lead foot dominance by stepping his lead foot through, thereby ending up creating space and pivoting to face them. He angles 90 degrees and then proceeds to angle 180-degrees. Thus, if you’re a boxer seeking to overcome the lead foot dominance, watching Guillermo Rigondeaux is your best bet to gather some quick tricks and trades.
In this video below, you can see Green stepping his lead leg outside of Rigo’s to establish a lead foot dominance. However, Rigo doesn’t let that happen as he senses his opponent’s intention, he brings his rear leg through and pivots 90-degrees to square his opponent up. Though it’s always a dangerous position to be in, with effective movement, Rigo is always able to move out of danger and establish a counter.
Angling rightwards with a hook
Rigo does a great job of angling towards the right whilst landing the hook. He initially steps his right foot out, then swings his left foot behind thereby successfully bringing the right shoulder forward to protect the chin. That’s movement combined with defensive excellence. It follows the same pattern as Rigo’s 180-degree turn, which you might have already seen from the clips above.
Developing uniqueness of style
In boxing, the cultivation of skill requires not only sound mechanics but also an appreciation of timing, distance, and rhythm. Rigondeaux seems to possess all of it and applies it to great effect in the ring. His mastery of these qualities allows him to apply these techniques advantageously when he is in an optimum position to attack or defend. Thus, in Rigo’s case, the correct application at the right time always helps him come on top.
As they say, anyone can throw a punch, but not everyone can position themselves to throw an effective punch and eat one while doing so. Many people criticize Rigo for not using jabs. However, he is a clever fighter who knows that during Orthodox vs Southpaw, both boxers have their lead hand and foot obstructed by each other. Thus, the jab is not the easiest punch to execute. And as we learned above, Rigo does all the work with his lead hand to get his opponent’s frustrated and cause them to throw miscalculated punches.
Masterfully executing a pawing jab
Tactically, everything that Rigondeaux accomplishes in the ring stems from a pawing jab. It’s the catalyst for everything Rigo does in the ring. He uses it to create a distraction, to conceal a change in elevation and set up a left hand to the body. He follows it up by controlling his opponent’s lead hand prior to securing the sought-after outside lead foot position. However, Rigo’s jab is not just a blinding device to occupy his opponent or judge the distance, it also helps him with speed, accuracy, and timing.
Excellent Counterpunching abilities
Master counterpunchers don’t just sit back. They don’t wait for their opponents to attack, instead, they bait them into making a mistake.
In the clip above, you can see Rigo lazily bringing the jab back low to invite return jabs. After his opponent attacks, he slips it and then counters in return.
Controlling Tempo and Movement
Most boxers tend to maintain a steady rhythm when they fight. They move to a certain tempo or cadence. If a boxer tends to remain in-sync with his opponent. It can be difficult to land punches as the repeated movement can telegraph the motion and can be tracked by his opponent over the course of a few rounds.
Here’s where knowledge of rhythm comes in. And Rigo is certainly among the most talented fighters when it comes to switching rhythms and controlling the tempo. Through this is able to impose his rhythm onto the fighters and force them into fighting his way. Though there are exceptions and he can get ousted at times. By and large, this technique has worked for him throughout his career.
Get the simple things right
There’s nothing complex about Rigondeaux’s style that you cannot pin down. As a boxer, especially one who is getting started or honing his skills, you should emphasize on getting the basics right. In this world of flashy boxing and wasting time on motion and eye-catching moves, trying spending time focusing on how to work your opponent every second. That’s the excellence in boxing. Rigo is a 1-2 fighter who is great with basics. He is a testimony that if you work the basics well, you’re there 90% of the time. Keep it simple and work on the basics as much as you can.
With regards to basics – timing, rhythm, and distance are the underlying principles of Rigondeaux’s fighting style which he seems to have mastered. Thus, this provides him an edge over his opponent when it comes to implementing simple moves with much more effectiveness as compared to his opponents.
I hope this detailed case study on Guillermo Rigondeaux boxing strategies helped you learn new things. With this study, I personally learned, how keeping things simple can surprisingly work wonders against any opponent. Though there are some moves in there which are slightly complex, there’s nothing in Rigo’s boxing style that you can’t implement with a considerable amount of practice. Thus, work on mastering the basics and find your style in the process.