Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report

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Rigondeaux Outclasses Donaire, Unifies WBA and WBO Jr. Featherweight Titles

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Guillermo Rigondeaux (left) landing a left hand on Nonito Donaire (right)  Photo by AP

By. BrotherJR

4/14/13

Heading into the WBO/WBA Jr. Featherweight unification title Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall between WBO champ Nonito Donaire and WBA champ Guillermo Rigondeaux, it was Donaire that was receiving all the acclaim and pre-fight media attention.  In fact, on Thursday Night, Donaire was awarded the 2012 fighter of the year award by the Boxing Writer’s Association of America.  However, insiders and boxing nuts knew that Rigondeaux was a dangerous opponent with a legitimate chance of beating Donaire.  And at the end of twelve rounds the suspicions about Rigondeaux turned out to be true as he put on a boxing display, upsetting the highly regarded Donaire to unify the WBA and WBO Jr. Featherweight titles by unanimous decision (114-113, 115-112, 116-111).

This was a fascinating and anticipated bout of highly skilled boxers with both speed and power.  It was Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KO’s) who set the tone early landing the jab, counter-punching effectively with his southpaw left and right hook and showing himself to be the faster fighter.  He had Donaire (31-2, 20 Ko’s) coming forward, always landing the first and last punch within each exchange gaining an early lead as Donaire seemed frustrated, unable to solve the Rigondeaux puzzle throughout the early and middle rounds.  There were moments that the crowed booed, but Rigondeaux was putting on a  boxing clinic and had the clear advantage.

It wasn’t until round ten that Donaire started to step it up.  The “Filipino Flash” sprung out of his corner with a sense of urgency, and early in the round scored a knockdown courtesy of a solid right hand to the chin of Rigondeaux.  However, Rigondeaux got up, seemed unfazed by the punch and stayed cool and relaxed.  Donaire tried to take advantage, but was unable to capitalize against the composed Rigondeaux.  By end of the round, Rigondeaux was landing solid shots of his own and regained some semblance of control.  It was at this point that any momentum Donaire gained from the knockdown was gone and the fight effectively over at that point.  Rigondeaux cruised in round eleven, but left no doubts in the final round as he closed any chance of Donaire making dramatic comeback, hurting Donaire early in the round with a left uppercut that damaged Donaire’s left eye and won the round emphatically.  Rigondeaux would not be denied on this night.

What became apparent during fight is that Nonito Donaire is a bit of a flawed boxer, while Guillermo Rigondeaux showed that he is more well-rounded, disciplined, and complete.  Donaire had issues all night long figuring out how to attack Rigondeaux.  He didn’t use his jab to great effect and didn’t do any consistent body punching.  And when Donaire did attack, Rigondeaux would counter with sharp shots to the head and body.  Rigondeaux showed a better jab and what would be a surprise to many, a greater diversification and distribution of punches.  We all know about the defensive ability of Rigondeaux, but he also was more creative than Donaire, who seemed to fight rather one dimensional throughout.   To boxing enthusiast who appreciate skill and class, Rigondeaux exhibited all that and more, showing what the “sweet science” is really about.   To some, Rigondeaux will be accused of being boring and at times, running.  While there were moments during the bout in which the crowd was unhappy and wanted more action, but boxing is at it’s essence the art of hitting and not getting hit, and that’s exactly what Guillermo did it to a tee in terrific fashion.

While outstanding against Donaire, will Rigondeaux’s style make him a star?  In an age in which blood and guts counts more than skill and craft, I have my doubt.  It all depends on who the fighter affectionately known as “Rigo” is matched with and how he is promoted going forward.  s.  There are plenty of options of  Rigondeaux at both Jr. Featherweight and Featherweight.  He could try to secure a rematch with Donaire at some point or go for a possible match against former IBF Bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz who is moving up in weight.  While at Featherweight, there’s WBO champ Mikey Garcia, WBA titlist Chris John, and WBC belt-holder Daniel Ponce De Leon and former Bantamweight and Jr. Featherweight champ Abner Mares who recently moved to Featherweight, all intriguing bouts that the fans would want to see.

As for Donaire, he’s still very much a player at both Jr. Featherweight and Featherweight.  He’s still a terrific fighter and that can make a lot of money and win a title. Prior to this bout, the big talk was about Donaire fighting Mares.  And even though he lost to Rigondeaux, a bout with Mares can still be made and is a viable option.  Donaire can still move up to Featherweight and make plenty of noise.  After the bout, he said that he’s going to take a long rest.  His wife, Rachel, is expecting with their first child and Donaire disclosed that he has been dealing with an injured shoulder for the past 3-4 fights.  More importantly, Donaire has some issue to deal with in terms of how he fights.  He shore up his attack, better use the jab , and become a more consistent body puncher.  Maybe his issues had to do with the fact that his trainer, Robert Garcia, was largely absent during preparation due to his commitment to training Brandon Rios for his rematch with Mike Alvarado.  Whatever was the case, something was amiss against Rigondeaux and it needs to be corrected moving forward.

Guillermo Rigondeaux was borderline brilliant Saturday night in exposing Nonito Donaire and in the process, probably lifted himself to pound 4 pound status in terms of being among the best boxers in the world.  And truth be told, if he were to fight Donaire ten times, Rigondeaux would give Donaire hell all ten times because at this point, he’s just a better fight that presents a difficult task.  Prior to this fight, Rigondeaux was largely known for his amateur prowess who was largely unknown as a professional.  With his performance against Donaire on Saturday night on the big stage, let’s hope that Rigondeaux finally gets the exposure he deserves and appreciated for the outstanding fighter that he truly is.

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April 14, 2013 - Posted by | Blog, Boxing, Fights | , , , , ,

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