Jerry Glick reporting from ringside: The fight was a purist’s delight; Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Cuban exile with an astounding 400 fight amateur career with two Olympic Gold Medals and enough medals won in countless other tourneys to stock a bank vault, put on a display of boxing skills that should be used as a how to box lesson for all young people looking to try the ring.
In short, Rigondeaux, now 12-0 (8 KOs), was the professor and Nonito Donaire, 31-2 (20 KOs), the student for twelve mostly quiet rounds. Rigondeaux slipped and slid, ducked and dipped for all but one moment in the tenth round when Donaire put over a hard left to his face that dropped Rigondeaux for the only knockdown of the fight.
The favorite, both in the betting and in the hearts of the fans, was Donaire; the good looking young man with the attractive, pregnant wife was expected to use his explosive power to beat the Cuban expatriate by knockout. He just could not catch up to the ever moving Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux circled, shifted direction, ducked under Donaire’s punches, while landing many of his own, especially rights to the head resulting in a swelling below Donaire’s right eye; Rigondeaux left the ring unmarked.
The Judges tallies tell the story: John Stewart had it closest, 114-113, Tom Schreck agreed with this reporter 115-112, and Julie Lederman scored it 116-112, all for Guillermo Rigondeaux, who added the WBO Super-Bantamweight crown to his WBA belt on a Top Rank promoted show at the most unusual New York venue, Radio City Music Hall. This was only the second time that boxing was seen on the iconic location’s stage that has hosted Frank Sinatra among some of the biggest performers in the world. Back in 2000, then Light-Heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. defeated David Telesco by a unanimous decision, in the first ever boxing show there.
I guess Nonito must take the good with the bad. Only two days before the April 13th fight, in which he suffered a loss for only the second time as a pro, and the first time in ten years, he was on the highest mountain of his life. He and wife Rachel are expecting their first child, a boy, and on April 11th he was awarded the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Fighter of the Year for 2012, a banner year that saw him build his reputation and position on everyone’s pound for pound list with four wins, two by knockout.
As the battle wore on he began to look like the picture of frustration. Donaire continually swung his big rights and noted left hooks at a target that just would not stay in one spot. Finally as they traded punches in the tenth frame, Donaire threw a desperation left straight down the middle as Rigondeaux had a momentary defensive lapse that allowed the punch to land flush on his face. Up and unhurt, The Cuban world champion went back to doing what he does best, outboxing and confusing his opponent. Donaire tried very hard to capitalize on the knockdown, but found himself again chasing a ghost.
Unfortunately the crowd booed the way he won. They were expecting an explosive knockout from “The Filipino Flash”, Donaire, but instead they were witness to a fine display of finesse from Guillermo Rigondeaux. They wanted Gatti-Ward, but saw twelve rounds of the reason it’s not called fighting, and why it’s called boxing. Rigondeaux displayed the finer points of the sport. Donaire’s punch is exciting, but Rigondeaux’s skills are beautiful.
April 15, 2013