April 11th, 2013 By Kevin Perry
TWO BEST 122 LB. FIGHTERS FACE OFF SATURDAY NIGHT
Los Angeles, CA- WBO super bantamweight (122 lb.) champion Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs), a native of the Philippines, residing now in San Leandro, CA, faces a “Catch 22″ situation Saturday night in HBO’s main event when he faces decorated Cuban amateur and WBA 122 lb. counterpart Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs).
“FILIPINO FLASH” & “COMPLETE CUBAN”
If he defeats the former two-time Olympic Gold medalist its possible he won’t get the credit he deserves due to Rigondeaux’s lack of professional experience, limited profile and minuscule fan base. If he loses, future fights become less lucrative and detractors who believe Donaire has been fighting handpicked opponents will be vindicated. The biggest problem here is that Rigondeaux has a style that most likely can make Donaire look bad, be it winning or losing.
CAN FIGHT LIVE UP TO HYPE?
Hardcore boxing fans have been looking forward to this bout for the last year. It appears to be a toss up, at least on paper. The Filipino looked stellar in 2012, winning four times, beating some of the top guys at 122; Wilfredo Vasquez Jr.(22-3-1, 19 KOs), Jeffrey Mathebula (27-4-2,14 KOs), Toshiaki Nishioka (39-5-3, 24 KOs) and Jorge Arce (61-7-2, 46 KOs). However Saturday for quite possibly the first time in his career, Donaire’s facing a fighter with comparable hand speed and power. Rigondeaux, who won reportedly near 400 amateur bouts has arguably better footwork and superior defense.
While the Cuban’s resume is somewhat limited in comparison it can be said that fighters such as Arce and Nishioka were well past their prime. In the Cuban’s last fight he faced the 23 year old Roberto Marroquin (23-2, 16 KOs). What Marroquin lacked in experience he made up for in youth. In dominating the taller much bigger Marroquin, who stunned the Cuban on one occasion, it showed he had no problem fighting someone with a significant reach and size advantage. Rigondeaux was able to put him on the canvas twice and has knocked down all of his eleven opponents. Can he put Donaire on his back as well?
A TOUGH FIGHT TO PICK
There are many variables here to consider. The Filipino’s best punch is his left hook, a punch that is difficult to land versus southpaws such as Rigondeaux. Donaire also tends to lunge in with his shots, many times leaving himself open to counter punches. Rigondeaux suffers from a low punch output, and it is possible that the Filipino will be able to steal rounds with his flashier punches, even if the shots don’t land clean he may be able to put the Cuban on the defensive more often than not. Both are smart fighters with a good skill-set, the advantage goes to the Cuban in that department. Donaire is likely the bigger puncher. The question here is will the Filipino be able to land consistently without taking his fair share of punishment. Rigondeaux’s best asset is being able to control the pace of a fight with footwork and counterpunching. When he hits a fighter a few times they become cautious when it comes to throwing their punches. Because of this factor I don’t think Donaire is going to have the opportunities to set the traps I believe are necessary to win the bout. It’s going to be a cautious affair that will be a close unanimous decision victory for Rigondeaux. If I was a betting man, I’d bet the odds on a draw. Thats how close this one is in my mind.