When two fighters in the top five of their weight class square off, the last thing you expect to see is a boxing lesson. When pound-for-pound stalwart and international sensation Nonito Donaire took on one of the greatest amateur boxers of all time, Guillermo Rigondeaux, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, N.Y. last night (April 13, 2013), we got just that.
Donaire made his name as an athletic, imposing fighter with one of the best left hooks in the entire sport. With his foe having been dropped by a jab against Ricardo Cordoba and wobbled by Robert Marroquin, many predicted that his impressive boxing acumen would wilt under the Filipino bruiser's ferocious power.
No such luck.
Rigondeaux fought one of the most brilliant defensive fights I have ever seen, artfully slipping the bigger man's punches and consistently landing with his own big counters. While his output was often frustratingly low, he seemed several levels above Donaire for the first nine rounds, who had not even been challenged in years.
Then came the big left hand.
As Rigondeaux pressed Donaire into the ropes in the tenth, the Filipino propped his head up with his forearm and smacked him with a beautiful left hand, knocking the Cuban legend on his seat. He proceeded to attack with renewed vigor, but Rigondeaux put the rumors of his fragility to rest, firing back successfully and making it to the end of the round.
The eleventh returned to Rigondeaux's control and slow pace, but the twelfth round demonstrated just how badly Donaire was outclassed. An early counter overhand busted something in Donaire's eye, forcing him to keep his right hand glued to it. Smelling blood, Rigondeaux landed his best offence of the fight, scoring particularly well with sneaky left uppercuts and further turning Donaire's face into a swollen mess.
Though the judges' scores were inexcusably close, Rigondeaux proved without a doubt that his name deserves to be included among the top fighters alive.
Not bad for someone with "just" 12 professional fights.
For full play-by-play of "Rigondeaux vs. Donaire" that took place on HBO click here.