This was no Bradley-Provodnikov or Rios-Alvarado but that doesn't detract from the superior effort put forth by ultra-skilled Guillermo Rigondeaux in the main event at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Saturday night, and on HBO. His slickness, his hand speed, his movement, the whole package was too much for Nonito Donaire, who looked passive from the start, and for most of the rest of the way. Nonito scored a knockdown in the tenth, but that was one of his sole high points; after twelve rounds, the judges scored it 114-113, 115-112, 116-111, for Rigo. This was a display of the sweet science par excellence by the Cuban; the crowd booed regularly, but you had to tip your cap to the victor even if you didn't care for the manner in which he did it.
Rigo said after to Max Kellerman that those who know boxing know he did well. He said Donaire is excellent but you can't win with one shot. Nonito, his left eye puffed up from the 12th round, said he was sorry for not giving the fans what they wanted. He said he got stupid in the last two rounds, and lauded Rigo's "beautiful boxing." He said for last his three fights he's needed surgery on his shoulder, and will have surgery to repair a ligament. Some booed that announcement. He said he didn't jab like he wanted, said it was a close fight, but conceded he was beaten. He said he will go up a division because he had trouble making weight. He also said he didn't study enough before.
The fight wasn't the barnburner both fighters promised. Rigo went 129-396 while Donaire, never able to get a bead on the best defender in the sport, bar none, went 82-352.
The WBO super bantam champ Donaire (31-1 entering; age 30; born in Phillipines, lives in CA) weighed 121.6 on Friday, while Rigo (11-0 entering; age 32; bron in Cuba, lives in Miami) was 121.5. A crowd of 6,145 watched the tussle.
In the first, we saw Donaire's 2.5 inch height advantage, but Rigo had the hand speed edge. He landed a sharp left and a right hook later to take the round. Robert Garcia asked Donaire to step to his left.
In the second, Rigo moved less and Donaire was able to be the aggressor more so. His right to the body scored well.
In the third, Donaire landed a sharp right, his best blow, but Rigo's defense was superior.
In the fourth, Rigo coasted and ate a hard left then did the same to Nonito. It was a tight round but Nonito worked harder.
In the fifth, Rigo ran a bunch, and drew boos. But Donaire couldn't find him enough to snag the round noticeably.
In the sixth, a nasty left won the round for the Cuban. We heard boos again, but Rigo was in control, fighting his fight. Nonito's face was a bit puffy now.
In the seventh, Rigo did what he wanted and Donaire followed and didn't let his hands go.
In the eighth, Garcia yelled for Donaire to "stay close" and asked for the right uppercut. "I want to see more," he yelled. Rigo was again busier, and likely won the round. Donaire was again slow and flat in the ninth, and the crowd booed again. A left hook put Rigo down with 2:10 left in the tenth. That blow worked because Donaire closed the distance, bullied him, and didn't give him room to scramble. In the 11th, Rigo ran, made Nonito miss badly with left hooks, and the crowd booed. In the 12th, Donaire pawed his right eye. He covered his eye with his glove and looked hurt, because of a sharp right hand blow by Rigo. But we made it to the cards.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV