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Rigondeaux vs Donaire



Rigondeaux Upsets Donaire to Unify Title!
Wins in Front of Sold-Out Radio City Music Hall

April 13, 2013 - Radio City Music Hall, NY, NY

Ringside Report: Mariano A. Agmi
Photos: Ed Mulholland


Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) met his match on Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Before a sellout crowd of 6,145 fans, the 2012 Fighter of the Year lost a twelve round unanimous decision and his WBO super bantamweight championship to Cuban amateur star and WBA super bantamweight titlist Guillermo "El Chacal" Rigondeaux (12-0, 9 KOs).

In a masterful performance worthy of the events the legendary venue is known for, the wily Rigondeaux, with only 12 professional bouts on his ledger, pulled from a bag of tricks gained from his vast amateur experience that includes over 400 bouts (only 12 losses) and used superior speed, defense and underrated power to win a close but clear decision over the best super bantamweight and one of the top Pound-for-Pound fighters.

The contest resembled a high speed chess match between elite competitors from the opening bell, as the speedsters launched quick punches and counter punches that were almost too fast to see clearly.

After four rounds, the bout looked as if it could be yet another candidate for Fight of the Year. Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2000 and 2004) who defected from Cuba in 2009 and settled in Miami, appeared to sweep at least the first three rounds by consistently landing a southpaw jab and straight left hands to the body that disturbed Donaire's rhythm and caused the "Filipino Flash" to reset time and again.

"El Chacal" (the Jackal) lived up to his nickname by landing sneaky counter right hooks over and around Donaire's guard, one of which caused Donaire to stumble to the ropes early in round one.

Donaire attempted to impose his superior size throughout the bout, walking Rigondeaux down and trying to get close enough to the Cuban to land a significant counter. The Filipino also looked to create openings to counter the thirty-two year-old Cuban with his patented short left hook, a weapon he has used to devastating effect in high profile victories over Vic Darchinyan (TKO 5) and Fernando Montiel (TKO 2). Some of those counter left hooks landed, but Rigondeaux took them well and ensured that they landed few and far between.

Rigondeaux appeared to focus more on defense in round five, boxing intelligently in circles while Donaire followed. With neither fighter eager to initiate the action (a common problem when counter punchers are matched-up as they each want to capitalize on the mistakes of the other) the crowd became restless during round six and booed loudly.

For Donaire, the boos likely brought back memories of his first appearance in New York, a twelve round unanimous decision over Omar Narvaez, an opponent who retreated into a defensive shell as soon as he tasted the Filipino's power and refused to engage. Perhaps wanting to avoid a similar outcome, Donaire became impatient and spent too much of the fight looking to land one big shot that would end matters.

Unfortunately, the tactic resulted in Donaire missing more punches than we have ever seen, as Rigondeaux began to land quick right hooks before crouching below Nonito's shots and at one point turning his back on Donaire and spinning away in a defensive move this writer had not seen before.

Donaire struck gold in round ten, however, as rough house tactics followed by a powerful left hand on the button dropped Rigondeaux to the canvas. The Cuban quickly rose and shook it off, landing a right hook and a left of his own to show his opponent that he was not badly hurt.

"El Chacal" won the close bout in the championship rounds, as he landed several big left hands in rounds eleven and twelve, one of which landed squarely on Donaire's right eye in the final stanza. Donaire briefly retreated after the punch before rushing and tackling Rigondeaux to the canvas. When they rose, Donaire kept his right glove glued to his right eye, causing all in attendance to speculate as to whether he suffered a cut.

Knowing that a quick Donaire left hook could still end matters at any moment, Rigondeaux cautiously moved in on his hurt prey, landing another left hand and a quick uppercut. When Donaire finally moved his right hand away, he revealed a badly swollen right eye that looked to be quickly closing. Rigondeaux pursued Donaire and won the round big, but he was unable to finish his opponent.

The Cuban contingent erupted when the scores were announced, as Judges John Stewart, Tom Schreck and Julie Lederman respectively scored the bout 114-113, 115-113 and 116-111 for Rigondeaux.

FightNews saw the bout 114-113 for Rigondeaux.

"El Chacal" was surprised by the crowd's boos during the bout and after the scores were announced.

"Anyone who knows boxing saw that this was a very good fight," said Rigondeaux, who landed 129 of 396 punches for a 33% rate. "Donaire is an excellent fighter, but you can't win a fight with one shot".

Trainer Pedro Diaz, who was the Olympic coach during part of Rigondeaux tenure on the Cuban national team, concurred with his charge: "We boxed the Cuban way tonight, hit and don't get hit, and we made (Donaire) look bad. We were winning every round by landing more effective blows."

With the win, Rigondeaux disproved the notion that Cuban boxers (with the notable exception of former champion Joel Casamayor, who was in Rigo's corner for this bout) cannot transition successfully from the amateur to the professional ranks.

"Everyone said that I was just a great amateur fighter, but I'm a top pound-for-pound fighter" said Rigondeaux, who won an interim belt in his seventh pro fight and the full title in his ninth. "I used movement and speed and displayed quality boxing tonight. I made him look bad. I was a star as an amateur and now I am a star as a professional with only twelve fights."

The new unified champion stated that he would be ready to face anyone who wanted to challenge him.

However, Top Rank President Bob Arum did not seem eager about the prospect of selling a fight that includes a gifted fighter who cautiously executes his game plan.

"If he would only stand and fight," lamented Arum. "He has a lot of power and a lot of skills. He's one of the best defensive fighters I've ever seen, but it's not a very pleasing style. I have to look for someone to fight him. At eighty years old, the master salesman has to figure out how to sell a master boxer to the public."

Despite citing a shoulder injury and admitting that he did not study tape for this fight, Donaire, who entered the fight riding a 12-year, 30-bout winning streak, appeared humble in defeat.

"First of all, I apologize," said Donaire, who landed 82 of 352 punches (23%). "I have no excuse, he beat me tonight. I didn't use my jab or go to my left. During the last two rounds I got stupid. I wanted to take him out so bad and I got carried away. I did feel his power in the last round. I never studied the tape and I should have. I congratulate him for his beautiful boxing."

With a baby on the way and the weight of being Manny Pacquiao's successor with regards to Filipino boxing, Donaire admitted that he had a lot on his mind before this fight.

"There was a lot of pressure on me. I have ligament damage in my shoulder and I need surgery. It was close and I gave it all I've got. I want a rematch. I had trouble making weight and I'd like to go up to 126."

Rigondeaux vs Donaire Photos

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Monaghan pummels Stanley in One!

Popular Long Island light heavyweight "Irish" Seanie Monaghan upped his undefeated record to 18-0 (11), knocking out Kansas City native Rex Stanley (11-4-1, 2 KOs) in the first round with a thudding overhand right hand. Monaghan stalked Stanley from the opening bell, landing heavy left hooks to the body and right hands to the head. A big right hand dropped Stanley for an eight count and a follow-up overhand right finished him at 1:51 of round one.

Monaghan vs Stanley Photos

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Hart explodes on Farr

Super middleweight prospect Jesse Hart (7-0, 5 KOs) kept his unbeaten record intact, scoring an explosive third round TKO over Marlon Farr (2-3).

The Philly native landed a huge right hand to the head to drop the southpaw Farr hard. It appeared as if Farr was out on his feet when he rose, but referee Arthur Mercante Jr. decided to allow the Floridian to continue. A follow-up barrage punctuated by two additional right hands finished the job, leaving Farr lying on the canvas for several minutes.

Hart vs Farr Photos

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Verdejo looks impressive!

Blue chip Puerto Rican prospect Felix Verdejo improved to 5-0 (4 KOs) with a spectacular first round TKO over Steve Gutierrez (4-4-1, 2 KOs) of Fort Worth, TX.

Displaying speed, power and accuracy, the 19-year-old super featherweight landed an array of punches on the much slower Gutierrez. A counter left hook first wobbled Gutierrez early in the round, and a huge right hand dropped the Texan hard for an eight count. A follow-up uppercut, left hook, right hand combination moments later dropped Gutierrez in slow motion for a second knockdown.

Referee Steve Willis did not bother to start the count, as it was evident that the fight was over at 1:51 of round one.

Verdejo vs Gutierrez Photos

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Tapia dominates de los Santos

New Jersey junior middleweight Glen Tapia (18-0, 10 KOs) continued his ascent up the rankings, winning every round in a disciplined performance against Puerto Rican Joseph de los Santos (13-12-3, 6 KOs).

Tapia calmly stalked his opponent, landing stinging left hooks and right hands to the body to slow his opponent and well-placed right hands to the head to dominate his scrappy opponent. Judges Kevin Morgan, John Poturaj and Glenn Feldman all scored the bout 80-72 for the "Jersey Boy".

Tapia vs de los Santos Photos

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Other Bouts

Clary destroys Andaluz

In the swing bout of the evening, lightweight prospect Toka Kahn Clary (5-0, 4 KOs) annihilated Puerto Rican Gadiel Andaluz (4-3-1, 2 KOs) in round one.

Newly signed to the Top Rank banner,"T-Nice" landed a quick and short counter left hook that caught Andaluz as he was coming in, knocking the Puerto Rican down near the neutral corner for an eight count. Referee Harvey Dock took a long look at Andaluz before allowing the bout to continue. A flurry punctuated by a straight left hand dropped Andaluz again, but the Puerto Rican again rose and indicated to Dock that he wanted to continue.

Clary had other plans, as he launched another left hand that knocked Andaluz down a third time, causing Dock to halt the bout at 1:32 of the opening stanza.

Canning-Soccia entertain the crowd!

In a spirited bout between limited fighters, Tyler Canning (2-1) out worked Dario Soccia (2-1) over four rounds in a super welterweight contest.

Soccia appeared to be the sharper, more skilled boxer, but two out of three judges favored the fighter out of Wyoming for landing the heavier blows.

Judges Kevin Morgan and Glenn Feldman scored the bout 39-37 for Canning, while Alan Rubinstein saw it 39-37 for the Italian fighting out of New York.

Zewski TKOs Sostre in Two!

In a welterweight contest, Canadian prospect Mikael Zewski (18-0, 14 KOs) made short work of Daniel Sostre (11-9-1, 4 KOs), dropping the New Yorker twice in round two for a knockout.

A right hand to the top of the head dropped Sostre for the first time, and a left hook to the head in the follow-up flurry caught Sostre again for a ten count. It appeared as if Sostre could beat the count, but he signaled to his corner that he would not be doing so.

Time was 0:49 of round two.

DeLeon overcomes Baier

In the opening bout of the evening, Detroit native Erick DeLeon improved his record to 3-0 (1), battering Filipino-American Diamond Baier (2-5-1) over four rounds in a lightweight contest.

A right hook seemed to drop Baier in round one, but referee Steve Willis called it a slip. The southpaws traded power shots for the duration of the bout, with the Robert Garcia trained DeLeon getting the better of the exchanges over four rounds.

Scores were 40-36 (2x) and 40-34.


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