By Kirk Jackson
Guillermero Rigondeaux 11-0 (8 KO’s) and Nonito Donaire 31-1 (20 KO’s) aim to mix it up April 13th at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, in a battle of super bantamweights for the unification of the WBA, WBC, WBO and Ring Magazine titles.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
This is one of the best match-ups this year, in a year already featuring amazing fights so far.
This is a fight hardcore boxing fans had been wanting for a couple years now. A match-up oozing of talent, intelligence, speed, power, high skill and versatility featuring two of the best fighters south of the lightweight division.
It’s not the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight that we all have been wanting the past four years or so, but it’s a great fight, featuring two guys operating on a similar skill level to Mayweather and Pacquiao. Plus Donaire and Rigondeaux are still in their primes.
Donaire possesses the advantages of size, pro level experience, versatility and power.
He is big for his weight class, often sporting a size advantage over his opponent. Donaire combines his size with a unique blend of speed, power and skills.
Donaire is an unorthodox fighter who fights in an orthodox stance, but can switch to southpaw and is also inept at counter punching. With all of his skills and accomplishments, the four division champion and reigning 2012 fighter of the year has proved to be one of the best fighters in the world of any weight class.
Rigondeaux comes from a rich amateur background in Cuba and has over 400 amateur fights and 2 Olympic Gold Medals. Along with other Cuban greats like Joel Casamayor, Rigondeaux is regarded as one of the greatest amateur fighters of all time.
A southpaw, Rigondeaux is a slick defensive fighter, who excels at counter punching, has great speed, timing and underrated power.
For people who doubt whether he can make an adjustment to the pro style of Donaire, Rigondeaux became a world champion in less than 10 fights. He’s encountered just about every boxing style there is and Hall of Fame Trainer Freddie Roach stated Rigondeaux is the most talented fighter he has ever worked with.
This fight will come down to patience, timing, generalship and power.
Donaire will come out guns blazing to start the fight. I think he wants to make a statement and knock out Rigondeaux, a guy who some people have claimed he was ducking for a while. Getting off to a fast start actually works in Donaire’s favor.
If he can get off to a fast start early, he can set the pace of the fight, take away Rigondeaux’s confidence, impose his power and can end the fight early.
This is important because this is Rigondeaux’s 12th professional fight and first professional fight against an opponent of Donaire’s caliber. If you’re Donaire, you do not want to allow Rigondeaux to get comfortable and get into a groove.
Rigondeaux has stated in interviews leading up to the fight, that he wants to mix it up with Donaire, but that is not the formula for success against Donaire, more like a recipe for disaster.
The Filipino Flash has a powerful punch, and getting caught clean early will be devastating. Knowing that Donaire is coming for him early, it may be to Rigondeaux’s advantage to weather the early storm and to patiently break down Donaire with steady body punching and counter punching.
Donaire has a dangerous left hook, one of the best hooks in the sport, but the main punch Rigondeaux will have to worry about is the straight right hand lead, the most effective punch against southpaws. Especially with Donaire, as he can throw a punch at various, unorthodox angles.
This is a tough fight to call, even though Donaire is almost a 4 to 1 favorite to win the fight. This is anyone’s fight, but I think Rigondeaux will pull out a victory when the two clash at the Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Donaire has the better resume in regards to opponents and accomplishments on a professional level. He has the advantage of power, a two inch reach advantage and maybe a slight speed advantage. Overall Donaire may be a little more polished. But Rigondeaux’s slick boxing style will present problems for Donaire and styles do make fights.
With the lack of offensive openings, Donaire will grow impatient as the fight goes on and will press a little as he has done in fights past, but will pay the price this time around.
Donaire has struggled to mount consistent, effective, offense against guys like Omar Narvaez, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and Jeffrey Mathebula. They may have been too defensive minded and didn’t want to exchange, or had an awkward style. Donaire clearly won the fights, but they weren’t as easy as some people expected.
He’s often been hit consistently by guys who are nowhere near his skill level, which may be accounted to Donaire allowing himself to get hit in order to create an opening for attack, not caring for defense or a lack of concentration and boredom.
Some of the guys Donaire has looked good against recently like Jorge Arce and Toshiaki Nishioka, who are great champions in their own right respectively, were little past it by the time Donaire got them. That’s how it is sometimes, timing is everything.
In this fight timing will be everything. Rigondeaux’s counter punching and body punching will pay huge dividends for the Cuban fighter. This fight could go the full 12 rounds, but I think we will see a late stoppage from Rigondeaux in a great fight for boxing fans.
This won’t be a war like Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios, but more like an accelerated chess match.
Hopefully Abner Mares or Gary Russell Jr. will eventually fight the winner.