Up Next: Donaire vs. Rigondeaux
Contender for Fight of the Year is less than two months away. WBO junior featherweight champ Nonito Donaire will face his WBA counterpart Guillermo Rigondeaux at Radio City Music Hall on April 13. At stake, both the WBO and WBA straps.
Radio City Music Hall, is it? An unexpected venue. I was last there in 1976, hoping (with a marked lack of success) to impress an Argentine beauty with my Porfirio Rubirosa-like charm via a viewing of Robin and Marian. I’m sure Donaire-Rigondeaux will prove to be far more eventful than my ill-fated venture there 37 years ago. Indeed, the scheduled bout is already historic, given that it will be the first match hosted by Radio City since Roy Jones Jr. beat David Telesco by unanimous decision on January 15, 2000.
Thirty-year-old Donaire (31-1-0, 20 KOs) is a 12-year pro, who fought and won four times last year. He beat Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in February by split decision and Jeffrey Mathebula in July by unanimous decision, and stopped Toshiaki Nishioka in October by ninth-round TKO and Jorge Arce in December by third-round KO.
Rigondeaux, 32 (11-0-0, 8 KOs), turned pro in 2009. He had three bouts last year, stopping Rico Ramos by sixth-round KO in January and Teon Kennedy by fifth-round TKO in June, and defeating Robert Marroquin by unanimous decision in September. The Cuban southpaw’s December match with Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym was canceled. Unfortunate that, because it had the makings of a quality bout.
Eleven fights, even though all victories, isn’t particularly impressive over a four-year period. But “The Filipino Flash” isn’t such a fool as to underestimate “El Chacal.” Rigondeaux is fast, strong, clever, a hard hitter, and his defensive technique is masterful. In addition, he’s among the best amateur boxers of all time, up there with Laszlo Papp, Teofilo Stevenson, Felix Savon, and Mark Breland. Rigondeaux brought home Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004. He won almost 400 amateur bouts, losing only 12.
Impressive, and yet… In describing his man Oddjob to James Bond, Auric Goldfinger observed that karate is to judo “what a Spandau is to a catapult.” That is precisely what professional boxing is to amateur; what Donaire is to Rigondeaux.