Guillermo Rigondeaux got the best of Nonito Donaire on Saturday night (Photo: Naoki Fukuda)
By Chris Robinson
On Saturday night, from Radio City Music Hall in New York, two-time Cuban gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux captured his biggest victory as a professional with a commanding unanimous decision victory over Nonito Donaire in a junior featherweight unification bout.
Showing deft movement, superior angles, and sharp punching throughout the contest, Rigondeaux proved himself to be the superior fighter as he added the WBO bauble alongside his WBA belt following the announcement of scorecards in his favor reading 116-111, 115-112, and 114-113.
One curious spectator taking in the action was reigning WBO featherweight titlist Mikey Garcia, whose older brother Robert assists Donaire in training.
Shortly after the contest wrapped up, I got in touch with Garcia, who spoke on the match from his bases in Oxnard, California.
Garcia had a lot to say about Rigondeaux’s performance, even expressing interest in a possible meeting with him if he were to move up in weight. Garcia spoke on some things that may have led to Donaire having a less than stellar camp while also addressing Bob Arum’s interest in having him face off with Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez sometime in 2013.
This is what Mikey had to share…
Guillermo Rigondeaux executing his game plan…
“I don’t think Rigondeaux is the best fighter, but he was the better fighter tonight. He had a good game plan. Donaire started falling into his game plan by being not as effective as he should have been, not as aggressive maybe. But, then again, if he doesn’t look for the fight and the fight turns into a boring fight and Donaire wanted to give the fans a little something to see. It just wasn’t his best option, you know?”
Whether Robert Garcia’s absence from much of Donaire’s camp in San Carlos, Calif. may have had an impact, as he spent the majority of his time in Oxnard working with Brandon Rios ahead of his rematch with Mike Alvarado…
“It might have, because Robert was very busy with Brandon’s fight and that was only two weeks ago. It could have possibly hurt them, but with Donaire’s experience and the caliber of fighter he is, he still is very, very capable of figuring out his opponents in the ring. But it definitely could have been a small factor, that they didn’t spend enough time together. That could have also been part of the way they fought.”
Showing interest in a meeting with Rigondeaux…
“Rigondeaux can stay at 122 if he wants to, but there probably aren’t many fights there for him. So he might also decide to move up. If he wants to move to 126, I’m good to go for a fight with Rigondeaux.”
His belief that Donaire still has it…
“For Donaire, he’s still a great fighter, he just had one of those off nights and that’s it. He could come back anytime he wants at 122 or 126 and still be a very legitimate champion in the division. He still has it, he just didn’t have it this night. He just had one of those off nights.”
How to fight someone like Rigondeaux…
“Well, you’ve got to try making it your fight. Donaire could have maybe stayed on the outside more and waited to counter-punch Rigondeaux coming in, but like I said, that’s going to make for a very boring fight. Donaire didn’t want to do that. So, Donaire wanted to press the fight. Maybe he could have pressed the fight stronger and earlier and just make it a rough fight. But it’s just hard to say. Unless you are in the ring, you can’t really tell from the outside. Rigondeaux’s hand speed was there, his power was there. He had a very good night. Donaire just had an off night.”
Thoughts on Bob Arum expressing interest in matching Mikey up with WBO junior lightweight champion Roman ‘Rocky Martinez’ later in the year…
“Well, I wasn’t planning on moving up to 130 pounds yet, but if that’s in the plans and it makes sense for me, then we’ll do that. I wanted to stay in the featherweight division a little longer, but I can fight at 130 without a problem. It’s just a few pounds over. I’m not going to say no to it, but I would have preferred a few more fights. But it doesn’t matter. We can do whatever Bob says.”
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Chris Robinson can be reached at Trimond@aol.com and www.HustleBoss.com