Nonito Donaire admitted to me that people who are thinking he might be vulnerable at the hands of Guillermo Rigondeaux on Saturday night in New York City have a point. He's at a high point, ready to accept the Boxing Writers Association of America's Fighter of the Year award at the BWAA dinner on Thursday night in NYC, and he and the wife are expecting their first child in July. So he's got things on his mind, apart from ring matters, and he's done the ascent of a monumental mountain.
His foe, though, has enjoyed amateur accolades, but desires to get that same acclaim as a professional. Nevertheless, Donaire (seen in above Chris Farina-Top Rank photo, with Rigo) told TSS at the Wednesday press conference held at Madison Square Garden to hype his Saturday clash, which will run on HBO (11 PM ET start) that he isn't distracted.
No, he told me, leaving camp to go check on my wife, and hear the baby's heart beat will not keep him from doing what he needs to do against Rigondeaux.
The Filipino born 122 pound champ said he achieved a "moral victory" during the staredown at MSG. He noted that Rigo broke eye contact, and sent signals that he wanted to interrupt the staring contest. Round one went to Donaire, the favorite implied.
Donaire has said he owed NYC fight fans a good showing and told me he thinks Rigo will not be in run or clutch or overt avoidance mode. "It could end early, in the first couple rounds," Donaire told me.
Rigo, not a long winded type, said he expected to become a world champ on Saturday, and his manager, Irishman Gary Hyde, said there would be a "Rigolution" unfolding at Radio City this weekend.
Promoter Bob Arum showed no effects from jet lag, half a week after his Macau promotion, which ran on HBO2. At the mike, he lauded both fighters for doing PED testing, with VADA, and said he'd push for all headliners in bouts of this magnitude to do VADA testing, to insure a clean sport.
The promoter always impresses me with his ability to shift with the moods and rhythms of the times. He spoke of a recent meal in Beijing, at which he was shocked to learn that nobody in the room had heard of Frank Sinatra, or Elvis Presley. Then he brought up "50 Cent" and all the young uns knew what he was talking about. And guess who Arum has been doing co-promotions with, of late? The rapper-headphone maker-fight promoter, 50 Cent. He said jet lag is for sissies, during a post-presser chat with a few writers, and that, "if you're jet lagged it's your own effin fault."
The promoter said he expects the venue to be sold out, and reminded all that HBO, who he complimented for a recent shift toward superlative decision-making ie announcing they'd no longer buy Golden Boy fights, will start their show at 11 PM Eastern.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: NONITO DONAIRE VS. GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX is seen SATURDAY, APRIL 13 at 11:00 p.m. (live ET/tape-delayed PT), exclusively on HBO. The HBO broadcast team of Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr. will be ringside for the event, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino.
Other HBO playdates: April 14 (8:30 a.m.) and 15 (midnight)
HBO2 playdates: April 14 (2:15 p.m.) and 16 (11:30 p.m.)
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