SAN DIEGO, April 13, 2013 – Two time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux had a lot to prove in his fight Saturday night against Nonito Donaire at Radio City Music Hall. Would his impressive amateur career match up with the solid professional record held by Donaire of 31-1, 20 KOs? Did he have the skills to prevail over the 2012 Fighter of the Year?
The answer surprised many boxing writers and fans: Yes, he did. Rigondeaux won a solid unanimous decision over Donaire. The judges had it this way: John Stewart, 114-113, Tom Schreck, 115-112, and Julie Lederman, 116-111.
Lederman’s scorecard reflected my observations of the bout. From the opening bell, Rigondeuax took charge and demonstrated the superior ring generalship. He moved where he wanted and landed shots with precision on Donaire. Donaire was only able to land body shots for the most part through the first few rounds. His few punches to Rigondeaux’s head didn’t seem to have the expected Donaire power.
After round seven, Donaire’s trainer Robert Garcia started imploring his fighter to get busy, telling him in the corner, “You’re letting him dictate this fight… Nonito, we’ve got to do something… Let’s find something, we’ve got to find something.”
It took until Round 10 for Donaire to finally demonstrate the punching skill that made him why he was named Fighter of the Year, and he knocked Rigondeaux to the canvas. But it wasn’t enough, too little too late as Donaire couldn’t finish the job in the last two rounds.
“As I told you before, I told you I was going to do my job, and I did it,” said Rigondeaux through translator Jerry Olaya after the fight. “The people that saw this fight, that know boxing, saw quality. I made him look bad, and I looked great.”
Then in his direct way, Rigondeaux said of Donaire, “He’s a professional, he trains well, but with one shot he can’t win a fight… Boxing, moving, it was frustrating. You don’t win a fight with one shot.”
Sometimes you do win a fight with one shot, but it takes a lot of work to get to that point. Donaire didn’t appear to have put in the work. He had to work to lose weight at the last minute to make the limit. After the fight, Donaire told his many loyal supporters in the crowd, “I apologize for not being able to deliver… in the last two rounds I got stupid. I got too carried away, I wanted to take him out and I fell in love with that.”
Donaire said he felt under pressure to win, especially before he took several months off due to the birth of his first child. He also said he had been fighting with torn ligaments in the shoulder, and needs to have surgery, which he will now do.
“We thought we could get him, I didn’t do my job…. I fell for that power,” said Donaire. “There’s no excuse, he beat me tonight. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and be better. I gave it all I got.”
Donaire said he would fight Rigondeaux again, but only at the next weight class of 126 pounds. He always planned to move up in weight and those plans aren’t changing.
Was it the most exciting fight, particular after watching Rios-Alvaradio II and Bradley-Provodnikov? Perhaps not to some fans. But Rigondeaux showed he is the smarter fighter and knows his strengths. He was in command over the top fighter of 2012. It has made him the one to beat now.
Several lesser known fighters in the undercard bouts gave the fans plenty of thrills with no less than three first-round knockouts. Toka Kahn Clary of Rhode Island put Gadiel Andaluz of Puerto Rico down once. Adaluz got off the canvas to get dropped a second time, and then the third time was the charm courtesy a left hook. All in less than one round.
Felix Verdejo made the Boricua fans happy with an impressive first round knockout victory over Steve Gutierrez of Texas. It was an easy outing for this 130-pound prospect. Gutierrez took a fierce right, a left uppercut and another right to end the bout. Verdejo is the real deal.
The biggest cheers of the night went to light heavyweight Sean Monaghan (18-0, 11 KOs) of Long Beach, New York, who won by TKO at 1:51 of Round 1 over Rex Stanley of Kansas City (11-4-0-1, 5 KOs). Monaghan blasted Stanley with a perfectly placed overhand right, dropping him. It was one shot, on time and on target. The partisan crowd was elated.
An Irish American fighter like Monaghan in one of the heavier weight classes could become a huge box office draw if he continues to impress like this. He already has a following of devoted fans. Those numbers will grow with a few more performances like this one.
Next Saturday the Alamodome in San Antonio will host a much anticipated welterweight contest between young Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Austin “No Doubt” Trout fighting in front of many home state fans from neighboring New Mexico. Trout scored a big win over Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico to set up this contest. Communities Digital News will host a live chat – mark your calendar and plan to join us.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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