COMMENTARY | Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) stepped up and gave Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) a boxing lesson Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 118-111, 115-112, and 114-113.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba adds Donaire's WBO junior featherweight strap to his own WBA title. However, more importantly, Rigondeaux now officially moves into the top 1% of the sport, the land reserved for the true elite-level stars.
But after time is given to celebrate and rest, it's back to hard work and the search will go on for the next biggest challenge.
Here's a look at five realistic options for Guillermo Rigondeaux's next bout:
Cristian Mijares (47-6-2, 22 KOs)
Provided he beats the tough Victor Terrazas on April 20 and captures the vacant WBC junior featherweight title, the former world champ would be the most logical next in line to face Rigondeaux. Not only does Mijares bring name recognition to the bout, but he'll also be carrying a shiny new belt to add to Rigondeaux's collection. While Mijares, at a very well-worn 31 years of age, may be in the last stages of a long career and, probably, two divisions above his optimal weight, his veteran presence and underrated skill set still make him the ideal next opponent.
Carl Frampton (16-0, 11 KOs)
The undefeated Brit is coming off the two most impressive victories of his career-Stoppage wins over former world champ Steve Molitor and former European champ Kiko Martinez-and is hotter than he will likely ever be in his career. Realistically, the 26-year-old Frampton doesn't measure up all that well against Rigondeaux, but the bout would allow for a side trip to the European market and a solid defense that is both supremely winnable as well as critically acceptable.
Vic Darchinyan (38-5-1, 27 KOs)
Why not visit Donaire's old territory with a bout against the "Raging Bull?" Darchinyan has rebounded somewhat with a win over prospect, Luis Orlando Del Valle, after a pretty bad two-year run. There has definitely been talk that the wild-throwing, heavy-handed Armenian is on the decline, but for a fight of this magnitude, the juices will be flowing once against and Darchinyan may find one more solid effort left in his reserves. However, even if the bout turns out to be a blow-out, entertainment is pretty much guaranteed.
Chris John (48-0-2, 22 KOs)
The long-reigning WBA featherweight titlist from Indonesia has been a fixture on the world scene since 2003 and shows no signs of dropping out of the picture any time soon. Provided he gets by Japan's Satoshi Hosono this Sunday in the eighteenth defense of his belt, a bout with Rigondeaux would be a no-brainer. Sure, the level of his opposition has not always been the greatest, but John's longevity makes him one of the elites of the featherweight class. What better way to announce an arrival to a new division than by taking out its oldest, most established world champion?
Mikey Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs)
When Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia walked right through the tough Orlando Salido to take the WBO featherweight title via eighth round technical decision, a new divisional top dog was established. Garcia is young, talented, and supremely well-schooled with a growing resume of solid wins If/When Rigondeaux moves up to 126 lbs., Garcia will likely be the opponent fans will demand to see him fight. At this point, if the fight happened next, Garcia would probably be the favorite-and that's saying a ton about the 25-year-old champ from Oxnard, California.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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- Guillermo Rigondeaux
- Nonito Donaire
- Cristian Mijares