Sean Sullivan reporting: On Tuesday, just five days prior to their junior featherweight unification showdown, champions Guillermo Rigondeaux, of Cuba, and Nonito Donaire, of the Philippines, participated in open workouts in front of the media, held at Mendez Boxing Gym in Manhattan, NY. The contest will take place at Radio City Music Hall, on Saturday, April 13, in what will be only the second ever boxing event held at the hallowed venue; the first being Roy Jones Jr. versus David Telesco back in 2000. It will also be the second time that each champion has fought in New York.
Undoubtedly, this matchup pits the Cuban’s precision and technique against the Filipino’s power and determination.
Following brief workouts from undercard fighters Irish light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan and Puerto Rican junior lightweight Felix Verdejo, it was time for the Cuban prodigy and WBA 122lb. titlist Rigondeaux to take center stage. Working up a sweat in a Mendez ring, Rigondeaux demonstrated his extraordinary reflexes, as he tumbled about, doing somersaults while simultaneously catching ping-pong balls that his trainer would throw out in random directions.
Just weeks ago, Rigondeaux made the unusual move of switching trainers so close to what is by far the biggest fight of his professional career, replacing Jorge Rubio with Pedro Diaz, whom he’d worked with as an amateur. It is his vast amateur experience that Rigondeaux believes will help to ensure victory against Donaire. Citing his nearly 400-bout amateur background, which includes two Olympic Gold medals and seven Cuban national championships, the undefeated Rigondeaux questioned what Donaire could possibly bring to their fight that he hasn’t already faced and conquered.
Later on, fielding inquiries from the press, Donaire, 31-1 (20 KOs), acknowledged his foe’s superb ability but countered Rigondeaux’s argument, insisting that it will be his edge in professional experience aiding him in handing the Cuban his first loss in just 12 paid bouts. A professional since 2001, Donaire will enter the ring at Radio City Music Hall as a former flyweight, super flyweight and bantamweight world champion, while currently sporting the WBO junior featherweight strap. Though trainer Robert Garcia wants his charge to box intelligently and stick to their game plan, Donaire is eager to find out whether Rigondeaux has the heart and endurance to match his own in moments of adversity.
Both fighters are counting on their experience to carry them through to victory. The question is, will it be Donaire’s professional experience or Rigondeaux’s amateur experience?