COMMENTARY | Guillermo Rigondeaux proved once and for all that his amateur credentials were no joke, as he defeated Nonito Donaire via Unanimous Decision, toppling one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet, and the heir-apparent to Manny Pacquiao.
Official scorecards read 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111 for "The Jackal", a clear-cut decision victory. Watching the fight live, this writer scored the fight 116-111 for Rigondeaux.
Donaire, the reigning Fighter of the Year, was never quite in the fight. His typical activity and energy weren't there, and from the opening bell, Rigondeaux's speed and tactics bothered him.
That bother soon turned into befuddlement and frustration, and before long, Donaire was simply following him around, unable to cut off the ring, ineffective at generating his own offense or attack.
The phrase "ring generalship" gets thrown around quite a bit in boxing circles, but perhaps no other active fighter defines the term so well. Rigondeaux is sensationally calm and collected in the pocket, and he's always at ease.
He completely dictated the terms of this fight in terms of its pacing and location, and which man was getting his shots off first. There are many ways to envision any fighter losing on any given day, but it was hard to imagine Donaire being so easily turned into a trudging plodder.
Rigondeaux's win may come as a surprise to casual boxing fans, however, it certainly was not a shock. Before Abner Mares continued his ascent, Rigondeaux was the man in line to face Donaire, and he waited for over a year before he got his chance.
While Rigondeaux, long hailed as one of the best amateur boxers of all-time, continued campaigning for the fight, Donaire has been busy elsewhere. The Filipino Flash has been winning awards, stepping up to fill Pacquiao's shoes, and preparing for his first child, as his wife is expecting in just a few months. He has become a superstar, and like many underdogs turned A-listers before him, perhaps he forgot, at least for a moment, what exactly got him to his newly found position.
Perhaps he began believing his own hype too much, a common trap for prizefighters. Donaire's ability to simply to turn it on and land a mega-punch against an over-matched opponent is something that has taken him to great heights, but it was something he couldn't bank on here.
"I got too carried away, I wanted to take him out so bad, I got carried away with that," Donaire said in his post-fight interview with Max Kellerman on HBO's telecast of the fight.
Donaire was gracious in defeat, but managed to come up with several excuses, too. He has torn ligaments in his shoulder and needs surgery, and says he didn't adequately prepare for the bout.
"I never studied the fight, and I should have," Donaire told Kellerman.
Of course, that's no excuse. Donaire and his team knew quite well who they were facing, but chose to believe too strongly in their own buzz and their own backstory.
As for what's next, Donaire says he was struggling to make weight, and plans to move up another division to Featherweight, to nobody's surprise. There, Mares will be waiting for him, and Rigondeaux will likely follow. Still the B-name fighter, he'll clamor for a rematch of a fight he already won, as Donaire and his team look in the opposite direction and pretend not to notice.
In the current topsy-turvy boxing landscape, Donaire deserves credit for facing such a tough opponent, and if only he had showed up at his best, perhaps we all would have seen the fight we had been waiting for. Still, Rigondeaux deserves immense credit for his performance. Now one of the best amateur fighters in history has earned his recognition as one of the best professional fighters of today.
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com, where you can find breaking news stories, interviews, rankings and more. You can also follow Jake and ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.
- Sports & Recreation
- Nonito Donaire
- Guillermo Rigondeaux