On a Tuesday conference call to bang the drums for the Saturday clash between 2012 Boxing Writers Association of America Nonito Donaire and Cuban technician Guillermo Rigondeaux, Donaire (seen in above Chris Farina-Top Rank photo), a Filipino-born California resident who holds the WBO super bantamweight title, said that while he used to dismiss Rigo as a foe, he came around to the idea because the more he watched him, the more impressed he became.
The bout, to unfold at Radio City Music Hall and on HBO, is being promoted by Brooklyner Bob Arum's Top Rank. HBO's presentation will begin at 11 PM ET.
On the call, Arum said he was happy to be back in his native city. He put on a card in Macau last week, and was pleased to say that Radio City would be sold out come fight night.
Some folks think that the bout could be a battle between two chessmasters, a technical exercise where cautiousness and counterpunching and punch avoidance might play a too-large role to make it a fan-friendly event. Both men said that will not be the case.
"I owe New York a good fight," said Donaire, referring to his last time in NYC, on Oct. 22, 2011, when he beat an excessively defensive Omar Narvaez (UD12).
A fight with Abner Mares was first on Donaire's wish list, he said, but that isn't in the cards right now, with Mares' promoter, Golden Boy, and Top Rank, being at odds. Rigo was "the next guy in line," said the 31-1 boxer. Rigo has improved in his last four fights, said the 30-year-old, making this clash possible.
Rigo holds the WBA super bantamweight crown; the 11-0 hitter acknowledged that he gets it that many fans see him the underdog because he doesn't have much experience as a pro. A win over Donaire, though, would mean more than amateur accomplishments, the Cuban said. He said that the fans can expect aggression from both boxers, and that he wants to give them their money's worth.
Donaire said he's on top of the world, because his wife Rachel is pregnant, due in July. He's focused on the baby, yes, but he hasn't taken his eyes off Rigo.
The best line of the call came from Arum. He said he's been traveling so much, he doesn't know where he is. "I went into a restaurant for lunch, and I asked for chopsticks," he said, chuckling. "It was the Friar's Club."
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV