WBO super bantamweight champion and undefeated WBA titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux took part in a media conference call on Tuesday to discuss their unification battle at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Saturday night.
Below is what promoter Bob Arum, Donaire and Rigondeaux had to say ahead of Saturday’s big fight.
BOB ARUM: Thank you. it’s good to be back in the United States and good to be back in my native New York and it’s even better that on Saturday we have a classic match-up to present at Radio City Music Hall. The buzz for this fight has been absolutely tremendous and in the next couple of days we will be able to announce a complete sellout. We have been inundated with requests for tickets. I know that many of the New York Knicks players, who are off on Saturday night will be coming to the fight as well as many of the players from the New York Football Giants. The entire community, and sports community, is focusing on this particular battle which takes place at Radio City Music Hall between Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux. So it’s a real pleasure and honor for us to promote this event and I also want to take this opportunity to welcome our co-promoters Caribe Promotions, who are co-promoting this event with Top Rank.
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Training camp has been going very well and I am in the best shape of my career and I am very excited about this weekend.
NONITO DONAIRE: It’s been great. Camp has been going great. It is going to be a great fight. He has been the best ever at the amateur level trying to become one of the best at the professional level. It is going to be something – people are going to be there for a treat. It’s going to be a great fight.
How do you feel now about facing Rigondeaux where in the past you have been skeptical?
NONITO DONAIRE: In the beginning when I followed Rigondeaux, I wasn’t impressed with the Ricardo Cordoba fight, but the more that I watched him fight I realized he is more worthy of it. But first things first, I wanted to go Abner Mares first then Rigondeaux but that fight didn’t happen and now that I have been watching Rigondeaux the more formidable I see him. I am seeing that he is a really tough guy. Not only does he have speed and power but he does well mentally so I am really excited about the fight. When you do this for awhile, like I have, you tend to be motivated by having a good fighter in front of you and that is why I disregarded Rigondeaux in the beginning because of the Cordoba fight, so when the fight with Mares didn’t happen, Rigondeaux was the next guy in line. The more that I watched him fight, the more excited I got about the fight. He has a lot of talent and that’s why I am training hard for this fight.
What made you change your mind after the Cordoba fight?
NONITO DONAIRE: He fought better and progressed as he fought different opposition. As much as I can say he hasn’t fought the guys at my level – the more he fought, the better he got. That was worth the determination of me working hard.
How is it training as well as having a pregnant wife?
NONITO DONAIRE: I don’t need anything. I have accomplished more than many other fighters have in the boxing world. To me the most precious moments I have is feeling this kid kick. To be there and to witness every movement and every kick - I am really happy. But my focus is once I get inside that ring my focus is to win.
So it hasn’t been a distraction?
NONITO DONAIRE: Not at all. As much as I like to spend time with my wife, when I am inside that ring I have been performing well against my sparring partners and getting ready for the fight.
Your last fight in NYC was disappointing…
NONITO DONAIRE: I think there will be fireworks this time. It may be a chess match. We are both defensive because we can see the punches coming, but when it comes down to the fight we are both aggressive and offensive guys so I don’t think it will be anything near that fight [with Omar Narvaez] and the people in New York and the people watching on HBO will have a treat.
How is your weight?
NONITO DONAIRE: Weight is good. I have been getting bigger so I may want to try to move up. Training has been excellent and we have had excellent sparring. Everything I needed to prepare for this fight has been given to me and we are ready.
Is it important to score a knockout?
NONITO DONAIRE: I think, and you know me as a fighter, I want people to have fun and I will always go for the knockout if given the opportunity.
What would you say is Rigondeaux’ greatest strength?
NONITO DONAIRE: I think his ability to see punches and to be intelligent in there. He has speed and power like I do. It is going to be, who is the smartest guy in the ring and who has the biggest heart?
Do you think your pro experience will be to your advantage?
NONITO DONAIRE: When it comes down to speed-power and power and tactical ability then my experience will come in handy in terms of pushing through and going all-out and going more rounds I think that is going to be a big factor when it comes down to we are evenly matched. If it comes down to speed and power then my experience will be an ace for me but that is something we will need to find out – if he is stronger than me or faster than me.
Is this your most important fight?
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX: Nonito is a great tactician and has enormous power so I think it’s going to be an exciting fight. At this point it is the most important fight of my career. This fight will determine the best in the 122-pound weight class.
After the Narvaez fight you said you were disappointed for the fans…
NONITO DONAIRE: I am thankful for the fans so I want to give them the best treat that I can and that’s why I am not afraid to get hit or to take hits. I am there to give as much excitement as I can. The fans are there for me and I am thankful for them for supporting me throughout this time and to me that’s important.
How do you think you can get Rigondeaux to exchange?
NONITO DONAIRE: it is impossible to say what I will do because I am a fighter who is given a situation and reacts to that situation and whatever that may be I know I have the power and weapons. It may be the left or it may be the right. I know I have power in both hands and that’s what makes me scary. I have power from all angles and the overhands or I have the straight punches. Rigondeaux has the same thing, power in both hands. But it’s going to be a great fight. To set things in motion I have to put the energy out there to make him engage or do whatever I want him to do.
With Nishioka you made him come forward to finish him off…
NONITO DONAIRE: With Toshiaki Nishioka, at the moment he thought he could box me, but ultimately my tactic was well-played to the point where he started to reach in and I capitalized. But at the beginning he tried to power me in and I needed a different approach and that’s the same thing that will happen with Rigondeaux – I will need to find out what type of fighter he is to make a point in strategy.