On Saturday, April 13, 2013, Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0) won a unanimous decision over Nonito Donaire (31-2) at Radio City Music Hall in New York to become the WBA super bantamweight champ. Rigondeaux proved once and for all that his amateur experience in over 400 fights was just too much for Donaire, a possible heir to Manny Pacquiao. The official scorecards read 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111 – all for Rigondeaux. It is to be noted that Rigondeaux won Olympic gold medals for Cuba in 2000 and 2004. There is just no getting around the elite training required to earn an Olympic gold medal.
Donaire, the WBO junior featherweight champ, is two years younger and two inches taller than Rigondeaux. Despite these important ring advantages, Rigondeaux was in charge for virtually the whole fight. He won at least 9 rounds of the 12-round contest. Rigondeaux threw numerous left jabs, sweeps and upper cuts to the body of Donaire. In addition, Rigondeaux spent very little time on the ropes or in the corners so that his punches were more easily visible to the judges. Clearly, Rigondeaux was a superb, almost boring ring technician.
The last two rounds showed Rigondeaux as the clear power puncher. His superb background and elite training had Donaire frustrated and befuddled. Some fans booed at the result because this was a highly technical fight by Rigondeaux and not an entertaining one with a lot of bloody gore.
Rigondeaux fights a lot like Sugar Ray Leonard, as far as speed, accuracy and ringmanship. He hunts down opponents and delivers power punches very much in the character of Mike Tyson. Unlike most fighters, Rigondeaux spends very little time on the ropes because his superb Olympic conditioning allows him to gain a lot of points within close proximity to the center of the ring. Generally speaking, boxers who don’t train tend to spend an inordinate amount of time on the ropes.
In the post-fight interview, Donaire admitted that he hadn’t really studied Rigondeaux, that he struggled to make weight and was facing a shoulder surgery for torn ligaments. If all this was the case, why did he step into the ring at this time?
Right now, fans and promoters will wonder what’s next for Rigondeaux. There is someone around with a similar boxing style. He is Jayson Velez (20-0) who is a WBC featherweight silver champion. Velez throws very few punches but lands often to win points on the judges’ scorecards. His career is on hold until he heals fully from a badly fractured ankle. Perhaps, one day both he and Rigondeaux will cross paths in the ring. That would be a classic confrontation between two great ring technicians.
For now, Rigondeaux is the undisputed WBA/WBO super bantamweight champion.
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