Many people within boxing were picking Guillermo Rigondeaux to defeat the favored and more celebrated Nonito Donaire. What they did not predict however, was a wipeout and a boxing lesson handed out by Guillermo Rigondeaux. Rigondeaux, 32, (12-0, 8 KOs) silenced all notions that he would be great only as an amateur in the Olympic Games. What he did last night was the equivalent to winning the gold medal in professional boxing; He outclassed Donaire, a fighter considered one of the world’s very, very best.
Donaire, 30, (31-2, 20 KOs) was scoring spectacular knockouts. Moving up in weight while doing so against good competition and has been one of the sport’s most dominant fighters since he scored a highlight-reel knockout over fellow knockout artist, Vic Darchinyan. The way Rigondeaux nullified anything Donaire attempted with the exception of a tenth round knockdown would leave first time viewers of Donaire saying: this is the guy you told me about?
Donaire came out in the first round firing and he landed some good punches too. It was evident he had the punching power advantage everybody knew he had going in. Then, uncharacteristically so, when Donaire was nailed with a few pin point straight left hand shots, he was became hesitant all night about letting his hands go against the too crafty and too slick Rigondeaux. Throughout the night, Donaire was always a step behind, and Rigondeaux was two steps ahead.
It is not that Nonito Donaire is not one of the sports’ best fighters, it is just that he ran into his Achilles heel in Rigondeaux. A fighter who is adept at befuddling his opponents ,slowing down the pace to where he can pot shot you all night, and get out of there before his foe can reply. Donaire was forced to make the fight and he failed in doing so. Was it a case of a bad night for Donaire? Or is Rigondeaux just that good? Both.
Donaire did not fight with the intensity that brought him to this level of acclaim. Donaire was looked upon as a warrior coming into this fight, it was even a supposed advantage to some. When it was obvious Donaire was not going to be effective at all on the outside, he did not do what he was supposed to do; Make Rigondeaux fight. The tenth round knockdown was a great indication of how it was not going to be Donaire’s night. No heroic, Chavez-Taylor like comeback. Instead, he let Rigondeaux off the hook. Donaire did not even follow-up the knock down with anything. It would turn out to be his only opportunity of the whole night and he wasted it.
Donaire has a rematch clause and if he were to put it to use it is understandable. Great fighters, like Shane Mosley and Joe Frazier against Vernon Forrest and George Foreman ,respectably, were dominated. Yet, they got back into the squared circle to give it another go, because that is what true champions do. The problem with that is Mosley and Frazier lost both of their rematch in clear fashion (particularly Frazier’s). It may just be a case of no matter what game plan Donaire comes up with, or no matter how he prepares, Rigondeaux will have his number.
Enough can not be said about just how dominant Rigondeaux was, he immediately has catapulted into the ranks of the world’s very best fighters. A showdown with the undefeated California native Abner Mares, would be a terrific showdown and contrast of styles. But with the ongoing disdain between Top Rank and Golden Boy, the promoters of Rigondeaux and Mares, that makes the potential of that bout coming to fruition unlikely. What a shame. What was not a shame, was viewing the masterpiece Rigondeaux gave the sold out crowd at Radio City Music Hall. Whomever he faces next, he will be favored. As for Donaire, this will be the test of his heart and ability to bounce back like so many great fighters have done before.