Guillermo Rigondeaux bragged that after beating Nonito Donaire to become the unified WBO/WBA superbantamweight champion, he’s on top of the world for making the Filipino Flash look bad.
There is bad blood between Rigondeaux and Donaire so that explains the Cuban’s brashness and unsportsmanlike behavior. He survived a 10th round knockdown to score a unanimous 12-round decision over Donaire at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City yesterday morning (Manila time).
It was the second fight where Rigondeaux bounced back from a trip to the canvas. Three years ago, he took an eight-count when his glove touched the floor from a right hand by Ricardo Cordoba in Texas but recovered to win a split verdict. The knockdown he suffered in the Donaire bout was far more devastating. Donaire brought down Rigondeaux with a left straight from close range. The Cuban was clearly in queer street and danced away to avoid another fall.
Instead of praising Donaire for putting on an aggressive display of boxing, Rigondeaux said he succeeded in taking the flash out of the Filipino pan. “The people that know boxing saw that it was a very good fight, it was quality and I made him look the way he looked, which was bad, and I looked great,” he said. “I was boxing and moving. He was frustrated and with one shot, you just don’t win a fight.”
Rigondeaux used shifty foot movement and went side-to-side, left-to-right to keep away from Donaire’s power shots. With Donaire often off-balance trying to pursue Rigondeaux, he became an easy target for sporadic straights. It was a frustrating night for Donaire who just couldn’t cut the ring off from the Cuban.
Donaire’s trainer Robert Garcia emphasized the urgency of the situation in the corner before the 10th round by calling on the Filipino to give it his all for his soon-to-be-born baby boy and his family. Donaire responded positively to Garcia’s prodding and came out smoking. That was when he decked Rigondeaux. But Donaire couldn’t sustain the momentum because Rigondeaux just wouldn’t engage. The Cuban knew it would be too risky a proposition to exchange with Donaire toe-to-toe, realizing how the Filipino demolished Jorge Arce and Toshiaki Nishioka when they engaged.
Donaire said he thought he won and the knockdown was enough to force at least a stalemate. But while he made no excuses, Donaire said he was hampered by an injured shoulder. “To be honest with you, for the last three fights, I’m not taking anything away from Rigondeaux, but I needed surgery on my shoulder,” he said. “I tore my ligaments for about three years. I’m going to go back to the drawing board, get this shoulder fixed but again, he played a beautiful boxing game and it was my mistake for not changing up.”
Donaire’s inability to make adjustments in his fight plan was critical in determining the outcome. As Rigondeaux dictated the tempo, Donaire was lured into playing a dog-and-cat game. Donaire was the big dog chasing the quick cat. Rigondeaux, nicknamed The Jackal, proved to be too fast, slick and elusive.
But at 30, Donaire has a lot more years to work on polishing his craft. He’s intelligent, he works hard and he’s a proud warrior. Donaire will no doubt want a rematch once his mind settles on figuring out what to do next in his ring career. A rematch with Rigondeaux has to be in the future picture and next time, Donaire will know what to do to turn the tables on the Cuban.
By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star)