Rigondeaux, the new super bantamweight champ
JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 4/25/2013, 5:12 p.m.
For Nonito Donaire, his excellence in a boxing ring had become a matter of fact since he made his professional debut in 2001. At 31-1 coming into the WBA/WBO super bantamweight unification title bout against challenger Guillermo Rigondeaux at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday night, Donaire, the Boxing Writers Association of America 2012 Fighter of the Year, was being hailed as the heir to Manny Pacquiao in the hearts and minds of Filipinos.
And for good reason.
Donaire, who was born in the Philippines before moving to California at age 11, had rocketed through four weight classes en route to becoming the top of his sport. But the 30-year-old's ascension was stopped cold by Rigondeaux, a 32-year-old Cuban who entered the ring with a limited professional resume but a legendary amateur career.
Only 11-0 as a pro prior to his victory over Donaire, Rigondeaux, a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medal winner (2000 and 2004) for the Cuban national team before defecting to the United States and settling in Miami, proved to be much more than the 2-1 underdog that Vegas ranked him as.
The more aggressive and confident boxer from the opening bell, Rigondeaux earned a 114-113, 115-112, 116-111 unanimous decision in a match that can be conservatively characterized as disappointing. The AmNews scored the bout that was lacking expected drama and stirring exchanges 116-111. The crowd at Radio City was begging for excitement that never materialized.
"I want to apologize to you for not delivering what I said I was going to do," said Donaire to his dissatisfied fan base. "We have to go back to the drawing board and be better."
Rigondeaux was a picture of contrast. "I told you I was going to do my job," he boasted. "I made him look bad."
Indeed he did!