Night of the Jackal: Rigondeaux Schools Donaire

By Robert Ecksel on April 13, 2013
Night of the Jackal: Rigondeaux Schools Donaire
"We didn't do nothing. I didn't study. That was a mistake I did." (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

Guillermo Rigondeaux was simply brilliant as he outhustled, outlanded, and plain old outboxed his flummoxed Filipine foe…

“If there’s a good loser in boxing, I’d love to fight him every week.”—Gene Fullmer

Saturday night at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs), aka “El Chacal” (The Jackal), took WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) to school and handed him his first loss in over 12 years

2012’s Fighter of Year looked nothing of the sort in 2013. Fighting out the red corner in gold trunks trimmed with black, Donaire appeared totally flummoxed by the former Cuban amateur star.

Rigondeaux, fighting out of the blue corner in red trunks with black and white trim, was brilliant as he outhustled, outlanded, and just plain old outboxed his lackluster opponent.

There were times when Donaire looked as though he’d have rather been somewhere else. Unfortunately for Nonito, there was no other place to be than Radio City Music Hall in a championship fight.

Donaire’s power is his calling card. His ability to knock out men in dramatic fashion has been his ace in the hole. The dynamite in his fists is responsible for his pound-for-pound ranking. And his personable manner outside the ring has been both a dramatic and satisfying contrast to his abilities inside the squared circle.

But as we have seen before, and were willing to overlook out of love of the knockout, we have seen another time. When things aren’t going Donaire’s way he seems unable to adjust. That was the case when he fought Omar Narvaez in Oct. 2011 at Madison Square Garden, and we saw it again Saturday night at Radio City.

Though both fighters presented very different sets of problems—Narvaez was content to survive and Rigondeaux was content to box—in both instances Nonito appeared baffled when the man in front of him refused to engage as he might have liked.

As much as we admire Donaire as a fighter and a man, we have a responsibility to keep our fandom in check and remain objective. We gave him one of the 12 rounds, when he dropped Rigondeaux in the 10th to win the round 10-8. That was a moment, a fleeting moment, a porous and feathery moment when it seemed possible that Nonito might turn it around. But it was way too little way too late to even dent the perception that we were witnessing a shocking one-sided drubbing.

When the final scorecards were tallied and read to the crowd, judge John Stewart’s 114-113 in favor of Rigondeaux elicited a disbelieving gasp. The fight wasn’t even close to being close and his scorecard boggles the mind. Fortunately, Tom Schreck, who scored it 115-112, and Julie Lederman, who had it 116-111, both for Rigondeaux, were more in line, if not quite in line, with what went down in the ring.

As Max Kellerman and a phalanx of HBO technicians were climbing into the ring for the post-fight interviews, excuses for Donaire’s subpar performance were flying fast and furious. Some blamed his wife’s pregnancy for distracting The Flash. Others faulted his trainer Robert Garcia, who was presumably too busy prepping Brandon Rios for his loss to Mike Alvarado two weeks ago.

Rigondeaux was the first to speak.

“As I told you before,” he said, “I told you I was going to do my job and I did it. The people who saw this fight, the people who know boxing, saw that it was a very good fight. There was quality and I made him look the way he looked, which was bad. And I looked great—you saw it—boxing, moving, he was frustrated, and with one shot you just don’t win a fight. He’s an excellent fighter. He’s got a great punch. But with one shot you just don’t win it. I know he’s a professional. He trains very well. But with one shot you just can’t win a fight.”

Donaire spoke next.

“First of all,” he said, “I just want to apologize for not giving you what I want to say and wanted to deliver. The last round, the last two rounds, I got stupid. I didn’t really feel his power until the last round and I got carried away. I wanted to take him out so bad and I fell in love with that. But I have respect for Rigondeaux for the beautiful boxing that he gave me. We just have to come out and go into the drawing board.”

To say “We just have to come out and go into the drawing board” is to mangle a well-worn cliché. Donaire might have stopped there…but did not.

“To be honest with you, for the last three fights—I’m not taking anything away from Rigondeaux—but I need surgery on my shoulder. I tore ligaments for about three years.”

The crowd erupted with loud boos. They boo birds might not have been doctors, but they were rabid fight fans, and that the bad shoulder posed no problem until Nonito lost seemed to rub them the wrong way.

“But no excuse,” continued Donaire. “I’m going to do it (have shoulder surgery). Giving everything to Rigondeaux, that’s what I’m going to do, go back to the drawing board, get the surgery fixed. But again, he played a beautiful boxing game and it was my mistake for not changing up. It’s no excuse. He beat me tonight. I thought it was a very close fight. We just have to go back to the drawing board and be better. And that’s the thing is: be better from this point on. We gave it all we got. We want to go up the division now because I was struggling to make this weight. But we made a mistake. We didn’t do nothing. I didn’t study. That was a mistake I did. I felt, ‘Oh, I can make this happen if I really go in there.’ Like I said, I never studied the fight and I should of.”

Donaire should have studied the fight. His trainer Robert Garcia should have made him study the fight. And making excuses, and then saying “It’s no excuse,” feels as phony as a three-dollar bill.

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  1. Rick 09:40am, 04/16/2013

    I didn’t get pissed, it’s actually nice to visit a site where every discussion doesn’t devolve into a pissing match over Pacquiao and Mayweather. But yeah that stuff in Boston makes you realize how meaningless little stuff in life can be.

  2. Don from Prov 04:14pm, 04/15/2013

    As you know by now, that one wasn’t an explosion—
    But these are nasty, insane times: They really just are.

    And certainly not just in Boston today, some places it = always and constant

  3. Ted 01:11pm, 04/15/2013

    Prov, Now a third explosion has apparently occurred at the JFK library. This is terrible, just plain terrible. I just told my son not to go to work tomorrow. Stay home.

  4. Don from Prov 01:06pm, 04/15/2013

    Rios would be too

  5. Ted 12:59pm, 04/15/2013

    Glad to hear that about Rios Don.

  6. Ted 12:58pm, 04/15/2013

    And for those who don’t know, Don is a close personal friend and we see each other quite frequently, on a manly basis that is.

    We also disagree more than we agree.

    Now I’m off to church to say some prayers for the injured in Boston because Boston is MY city.

  7. Don from Prov 12:57pm, 04/15/2013

    Arrgh, Ted!, I am NOT dissing Rios.
    Rios is still one of my favorite fighters, but I truly thought it was more a matter of him gassing then Alvarado doing anything different after the first few rounds.  I WILL give up on Rios if he doesn’t come into fights in shape.
    I’ll do that quickly too—and will gladly admit so.
    Any dissing would be directed toward Garcia—

    And that ain’t really dissing either, just think he’s overrated.
    Maybe that = hating (:  (: (smiling like a moron!)

  8. Ted 12:56pm, 04/15/2013

    Good post, Don. I think we can be too civil sometimes and “salty language” can often be lots of fun.

  9. Don from Prov 12:53pm, 04/15/2013

    No, he didn’t piss me off: I think that I inadvertently pissed him off.
    I believe that he thought my response to your “explaining” to me about the difference in weight between GGG and Nonito referenced him, not me, as being silly.  Knowing that the Internet is flat and it’s difficult at times to understand if one is being angry or disdainful, I even added the little smiley thing—in spite of the fact that doing so makes me feel fifteen and/or stupid—to let him know that I was just playing in the EARLIER place where I DID respond to him.  Of course, since you and I are friends, I take it for granted that you’ll be sarcastic to me, and I, in return will be sarcastic to you—or accuse you of espionage (:  Amazing how cluster-bumped this site can sometimes become.  Have you ever considered, Mr. Ecksel, one of those set-ups where posters hit “reply” or can “rec” or flag posts?  And italics, bold, etc.  They do seem to make communication a bit easier.

  10. Ted 11:44am, 04/15/2013

    Plus your dissing of Rios is inexplicable. You loved him before the second Alvarado fight and now you don’t. I realize we are all fickle, but gee, one loss will not make him any less compelling. However, in Donaire’s case it just might, because he stunk up the place.

  11. Ted 11:41am, 04/15/2013

    Don, of course not, but he pissed you off and that made me laugh.

  12. Don from Prov 11:21am, 04/15/2013

    Is he someone filling in for you, Ted?
    That’s pretty much the M.O.

  13. Don from Prov 11:20am, 04/15/2013

    Rick: I was being silly—on purpose, that was the point I tried to make.
    Not sure how I could make it more clearly.

    But I break the civility code with regularity?  By making a dumb joke?
    Please point out where and when I’ve lacked civility.  Thank you.

  14. Ted 09:10am, 04/15/2013

    Rick has the beat

  15. Rick 09:05am, 04/15/2013

    Don- Golovkin can beat Nonaire? Do ya think? Who’s being silly? And my point about no combos being thrown is why do I want to watch a guy who will never press his advantage ala Hopkins or Mayweather. GR may be content to win like that but I’m not content to watch it. And by the way there’s also a rule about being civil on here that you seem to disregard quite frequently.

  16. Darrell 10:30pm, 04/14/2013

    Having now seen the fight…all props to Rigondeaux, he made Donaire look like an idiot.  Slashingly sharp, he came prepared & looked sensational.  I don’t care if he got on the bicycle at times during the middle rounds, he did a thorough job on the Pilipino flash….I’ll certainly watch this excellent boxer again.

  17. FeRoz 09:24pm, 04/14/2013

    To fight the way he did last night, which is to hardly fight at all, is inexcusable in light of his own admissions that he failed to study and train with the man he designated to be his corner, Robert Garcia. Shame on both of them.

    Rigo is a marvelous boxer but I can’t say that he made me a fan last night. At this level, for my money, an elite fighter has to do more than just enough to win, especially at these weights. To hit and not be hit is a marvlous thing to behold but to do it with a punch count as low as the ones turned in last night is just not very compelling.

  18. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:35pm, 04/14/2013

    I was wrong…the punch that knocked Nonito across the ring in the first round was not straight…in fact it was very similar to the punch that Sergio landed that almost killed Paul Williams.

  19. FrankinDallas 04:51pm, 04/14/2013

    Garicia= worst corner advice since Shane Mosely Sr. “We gotta do something different!”. OK, what exactly? Please be specific, sir.

  20. Don from Prov 12:15pm, 04/14/2013

    Hmmm…
    The poster “name another fighter who can beat him right now.”
    Forgot the “don’t shit around in a silly manner on the very serious B.com” rule

  21. Ted 11:32am, 04/14/2013

    Vi has the beat

  22. Ted 11:31am, 04/14/2013

    Don, GGG is a middleweight. He would never fight ND. And I’ll grant you that Garcia might be heading into a Roach-like slump.

  23. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:22am, 04/14/2013

    Vic D. would have fought Rigo and at least have taken him out of his comfort zone and Abner will corral him and give him a good old fashioned body beating (north and south of the border)....so let’s hold off on the sliced bread comparisons…at least for now. Garcia did tell Nonito to get in close but he just seemed a tad gun shy in that regard last night.

  24. Don from Prov 10:38am, 04/14/2013

    The fact that Donaire was beaten by a man who didn’t throw combos = what?
    Yes, Garcia was “preparing” Rios (how many times has he failed to make weight in the past?) who established that he could use the jab/cut the ring off/force Alvarado into more of a fight than Mike wanted—but was able to do so for only a few rounds before he gassed (that’s what I saw anyway) and resorted to following his opponent around whilst getting punched in the face.
    In other words, Garcia was doing a questionable job of prepping Rios.
    I’m with Vi on this one.
    P.S. Golovkin would beat Nonito right now :)

  25. Vi 09:48am, 04/14/2013

    I’m Filipino and I’ll support my fellow countrymen but Donaire dropped the ball on this one. No excuses. I just wish he never brought up the shoulder injury.

    I also noticed the instructions given by Garcia in the corner. I thought it was too cookie cutter. I believe these two (Garcia-Donaire) didn’t really work together as a team on this one.

    Props to Rigo. He deserves all the props in the world.

  26. Ted 09:45am, 04/14/2013

    Don. Garcia did not work with Donaire for this fight. He was involved 100% with Rios.

    And I tend to like Rick’s post because when you think about it, I never saw one combo thrown. On the other hand, whatever it takes also makes sense. Hell, I have seen fighters jab to a win. Still, would I pay PPV to see Rigo perform? I really have to ponder that.

  27. Rick 09:25am, 04/14/2013

    While GR obviously won the fight I can’t give too much respect to a guy who refuses to throw more than one punch at a time. Especially when he has the opportunity to do so. I can’t recall seeing one single combination last night from either guy but at least Donaire was trying. GR would throw one punch then almost trip over himself trying to run across the ring. I don’t hold this against Donaire too much. Name another fighter that can beat him right now.

  28. Don from Prov 08:48am, 04/14/2013

    Right, but Kellerman being Kellerman is a distinct problem that has nothing to do with Donaire—who, IMO, could have been a much better fighter that he is right now and just might ever become.  Shameful waste of talent.

    From what I’ve seen of his work, Rigo’s trainer appears far superior to Garcia.
    He extended Cotto’s career—his fighters are ready for who’s in front of them.

  29. Ted 08:26am, 04/14/2013

    Yes Don, but Max was too, too much in Rigo’s corner trying to rationalize his own pre-fight statements. Max continues to do that and it’s repugnant. He calls Rigo the next best thing since sliced toast and then gives him Whitaker-type props during the fight.

    I never thought I would see the day that I would say “I miss Larry.”

  30. Don from Prov 08:19am, 04/14/2013

    Nonito has seemed to be stuck in place for quite awhile, in love with his power and not developing as a fighter.  I’ve heard people deny that, but I think that last night helps prove the case.  For once, I really liked a number of things that the HBO team said: First, Harold Lederman once again voiced his dismay at Nonito.  Harold first spoke up during the Narvaez fight when Nonito couldn’t seem to solve a light punching fighter who left the entire expanse of his body wide open; Harold responded to his otherwise bewildered cohorts that in order to break down Narvaez, Donaire had to do what old-school fighters knew to do—break down the body.  Last night, Harold noted that Nonito appeared completely unprepared for the man before him, and Max noted (in a roundabout way) the stagnation of Donaire’s development.  I believe that Nonito is about what he’s going to be at this point, but one step in a better direction would be a new trainer.  It is the job of the over-hyped Garcia to get his man ready.  He didn’t. 

  31. Ted 08:11am, 04/14/2013

    “We didn’t do nothing. I didn’t study. That was a mistake I did. I felt, ‘Oh, I can make this happen if I really go in there.’ Like I said, I never studied the fight and I should of.”’

    Nonito should get the BWAA’s award for most stupid fighter of the year. Spend more time in the gym and watching videos and less time with the family and at banquets. He looked drained coming in. Rigo looked like a well-trained cat ready to pounce.

    Whoa, we just got a mother and 3 cubs (Black Bears) walking through our property . Back later. Got to take photos.

  32. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:59am, 04/14/2013

    The first counter straight left in the first round worked wonders for Rigo….it got Nonito’s attention and more importantly his respect for Rigo’s power and it was the primary reason that Donaire decided to box Rigo instead of fighting him!

  33. Norm Marcus 06:49am, 04/14/2013

    What a fight. Looks like we have a real well polished boxer in the game here. One who can also hit. Donaire has been living the good life for too long. He wasn’t as hungry as the Cuban last night. Probably read the sports page too much. Maybe living under Communism and escaping gave Rigondeaux the juice to make his shot at the title count. What’s with these Cubans when it comes to boxing and baseball?
    Somewhere upstairs Teofilo Stevenson is smiling!!!
    I wonder if the Cuban press will ignore last night? They have a Cuban world champion again and he had to escape paradise to do it! Let’s see how this plays out there. I know what the reaction is in Miami today!

  34. Ted 06:27am, 04/14/2013

    Rigo’s movement inside the ring was faster than a speeding bullet. He is as sliick as BP oil in the Gulf. But unless you are a purist (which I am), he will have issues becoming a great attraction. A fight with Mares makes a lot of sense to me.

  35. Ted 06:11am, 04/14/2013

    I’m surprised Max did not call it the fight of the century. What he sees inside that ring and what most see is purely coincidental. His hero worship of Rigo was nauseous.

    On the other hand, Donaire’s preparation was bile-inducing. To have spent late Thursday night at the BWAA’s banquet has to go down as one of the more imbecilic moves of 2013.

  36. Sophist9 02:35am, 04/14/2013

    That was BOXING gentlemen!!! PURE MASTERY OF THE SKILL BY RIGO…

  37. Clarence George 02:04am, 04/14/2013

    Biggest loser of the night?  Donaire’s dignity.  Bringing up that shoulder injury…what an appalling lack of judgment, and what a disgrace.

  38. Darrell 12:14am, 04/14/2013

    Running?  I will need to see the replay but from what I’ve heard he, Rigo, boxed beautifully….not every fight is a Rios/Alvarado, some guys can actually box & use defense.

  39. NYIrish 10:36pm, 04/13/2013

    Once in a generation fighter? I hope so. He stunk the place out with his 12 round retreat. The fans weren’t booing Donaire. Rigo won the fight but ran like a thief. Crowd pleaser he’s not.

  40. Ryan Even 10:30pm, 04/13/2013

    Thanks for providing the judges scores. My DVR stopped recording right before they gave the scores.

  41. Darrell 10:21pm, 04/13/2013

    Ace Rigo!  Must see this fight replay.

  42. KenM 09:51pm, 04/13/2013

    Masterful stuff by Rigondeaux. I thought there was a decent chance of an upset, but never like this.

    The fight looked like being competitive for the first 2 rounds, then Rigondeaux gave him a boxing lesson for pretty much the rest of the match. By the middle rounds he was actually in cruise mode as he was that much in control of the fight, & that gave Donaire the only chance he had when he scored the knockdown.  However it proved to be a brief moment, & Rigondeaux was back in control by the next round.

    How anyone can score this fight close obviously doesn’t know the first thing about boxing, as this was a masterclass in precision, timing & ring generalship.

    Congratulations to Rigondeaux, & I would say the only person that can beat him at the weight is himself, by getting simply getting too casual. Skillwise he is simply a once in a generation fighter.

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