We´d hoped for a slug-fest, but what we got was a chess match – theoretically one between Gary Kasparov and Bono (he´s supposedly pretty good.) 
In his super bantamweight unification fight with Nonito Donaire, Guillermo Rigondeaux chose not to follow Timothy Bradley´ s example, and instead put on a boxing clinic that was so precise and defensively adept, it made Floyd Mayweather look like Michael Katsidis.

Nonito Donaire was virtually everyone who mattered´s choice for Fighter of the Year in 2012. The Filipino Flash became a three weight world champ last February with a tough decision win over Wilfredo Vasquez Jr, claiming the vacant WBO super bantamweight crown. Donaire then went on to defend it three times; outpointing South African beanpole Jeffrey Mathebula, stopping Japanese iron man Toshiaki Nishioka in nine and then blowing away fading puncher Jorge Arce in three. Donaire´s position among the world´s premier pound-for-pound boxers was rising; some experts even regarded him as the best of them all. 

And then along came a 32 year old 11 bout novice named Guillermo Rigondeaux. Okay, so the little Cuban with the perpetually sad expression was a double Olympic champion. Alright, so he had fought 400 times as an amateur, and been fast tracked as a pro, picking up the WBA interim super bantamweight crown in just his eighth fight. Sure, he had super fast hands, a tight defense and could hit with power. The bottom line was, as a pro he was massively inexperienced compared to Donaire, and it was pro experience that counted.

Or so we all thought.

Saturday night at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Rigondeaux almost effortlessly avoided every assault attempted by Donaire, reducing him to the ranks of ordinary – at least for now.

Rigondeaux won a unanimous decision by scores of 116-111, 115-112 and 114-113. 
30-year-old Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) looked genuinely under-prepared for Rigondeaux (there had been mutterings in the fight´s build up that the Filipino was not happy with Rigondeaux as an opponent and would have preferred a bout with WBC champ Abner Mares), and right from the get-go we could see why. Donaire basically couldn’t find a way to land his punches consistently, and ”Rigo” could – period.
Rigondeaux kept Donaire off balance and out of range all night long, while countering him silly.

By the middle rounds the fight’s pattern looked set, Donaire looked lost, and some fans even began booing. After nine rounds the crowd of 6000 were reduced to a stunned (maybe bored) silence. A tenth round flash knockdown scored by Donaire raised hopes briefly of an exciting climax, but it was Rigondeaux who finished the stronger – sweeping the final two rounds.

The only surprise when the decision was announced was the closeness of one of the judges scorecard. 

Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) said afterward via an interpreter –

“The people that saw this fight, the people that know boxing, saw it was a very good fight. I made him look the way he looked, which was bad.”

 “Every boxing match has a different plan. I punched as much as I could and I won. Convincingly.”

“The last two rounds I got stupid,” said Donaire, “I didn’t really feel his power till that last round.”

Rigondeaux’s trainer Pedro Diaz said: “We fought a Cuban boxing fight: hit and don’t get hit. We made Donaire look very bad.”

Donaire earned a career-high $1.32 million for this fight, and it was also a career-best for Rigondeaux who made a  $750,000. Unfortunately, the problem for the Cuban is that despite his sublime defensive skills – or because of them – unless he ”gangstas up” a la Floyd Mayweather, he may struggle to draw his breath at the box-office. While some genuine fight fans can appreciate the extraordinary skill set Rigondeaux brings to the table, the rank and file who buy PPV’s want more traditional ”blood and guts” action.

As the fight’s 80 year old but still razor sharp promoter Bob Arum would say afterward –

“That S.O.B. (Rigondeaux) has a lot of power and he has a lot of movement, but running the way he does really makes it into not a watchable fight.”


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