Scott Quigg Previews Nonaire-Rigondeaux Live on BoxNation this Sunday morning
BoxNation subscribers get to savour a genuine superfight this Saturday when rival top ten 'pound-for-pounders' Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux duke it out at New York's Radio City Music Hall for the WBA and WBO World Super-Bantamweight belts. Catch the action live and exclusive in the UK on the Channel of the Champions, Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546 from 2a.m, Sunday morning.
Donaire, a top five pound-for-pound pick in anyone's list, has won seven world title belts from flyweight through to super-bantam and is now unbeaten for 11 years.
Born in Talibon, Philippines, he emigrated to California, aged six, and now resides in San Leandro, in the state's Bay Area.
Bullied as a child for his chubby, buck teethed appearance, Donaire found boxing at the age of 11 and recalls how he peed himself in fear ahead of his first amateur bout! His confidence blossomed sufficiently for him to win national junior titles and compete at the 2000 US Olympic Trials, prior to joining the paid code in February 2001.
A month later, aged 18, he surrendered his unbeaten tag to one Rosenda Sanchez (pts5) but has brutally butchered all of his subsequent 30 opponents. Known as 'The Filipino Flash', the now 30 year old is a multi-dimensional talent; supremely conditioned, frighteningly quick and blessed with crippling kayo power.
He smashed his way to attention in July 2007, by icing 28-0 Australian-Armenian Vic Darchinyan with an exquisitely timed counter left hook to bag the IBF flyweight strap. At the time, it was deemed a huge upset.
However, Donaire has since cemented his standing as one of the true elite of the present age with highlight reel kayos over quality men like Volodymyr Syderenko of the Ukraine (round four, Dec 2010), Mexico's Ferdando Montiel (round two, Feb 2011), Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka (round nine, October 2012 ) and, in his last gig in December, Mexico's Jorge Arce. When 'The Flash' lands clean, the resulting damage tends to last way beyond the ten seconds required to win a contest.
But he'll get a proper argument from Rigondeaux who might just be the finest amateur boxer ever.
Now 32, the Miami based Cuban southpaw lost just 12 of almost 400 unpaid contests and was a two-time Olympic gold medallist, two-time world amateur champion and also won a brace of World Cups. He was last beaten in 2003.
Known as 'El Chacal' (The Jackal), Rigondeaux finally defected in 2009 and turned pro under the Arena Box banner in May of that year. Within 18 months he'd captured the WBA 'interim' title when, in just his seventh paid gig, he rose from the canvas to edge out Panamanian portsider Ricardo Cordoba on a 12 round split in Arlington, Texas.
After obliterating Limerick's Willie 'Big Bang' Casey inside a round in Dublin, Guillermo upgraded to the WBA full title in his ninth start with a six round slaughter of California's Rico Ramos in Vegas in January 2012 and he successfully retained twice last year.
Philadelphia's touted Teon Kennedy was routed in five in June while 22-1 Texan Robert Marroquin was repelled on a landslide but drab 12round decision last September, both in Vegas.
He is now unbeaten in 11 with eight quick endings but this is the match-up to establish exactly how great he is.
To provide expert insight on the fight for us this week, boxing writer Glynn Evans spoke at length to Bury's unbeaten WBA 'interim' super-bantamweight champion Scott Quigg, a man who'll be hoping to share a ring with the winner, sometime in the future.
"This is a really interesting, proper 50-50 fight and you can make a strong case for either man winning.
They're definitely the best two fighters in the division at present and I've studied both very closely to see what I can learn from them. I aspire to be as good as them and, eventually, to share a ring with them.
I've seen loads of Donaire's fights and also study clips of his training on You Tube. He's not only incredibly gifted but he also has a fantastic work ethic. He's a real all rounder. The knockout over Jorge Arce in his last fight – a savage left hook - shows how fantastically talented he is. That was special. He's obviously got chilling kayo power but he's also got excellent speed and timing. I love the way he stays so loose and relaxed in the ring.
Nonito's very exciting to watching, always looking to get his opponent out of there as quickly as possible. He's probably got a better chin than Rigondeaux though, at this level, it doesn't really matter how good your chin is. If these guys hit you clean, on the right spot, you're getting knocked out!
While I always enjoy watching his fights, Nonito does seem prone to lapses in concentration as a fight progresses, if he's unable to get the opponent out of there early. He can become a bit bored, almost unconcerned about what's coming back at him, which leads him to get tagged with sloppy counters. He can lose a bit of composure and discipline if his fight goes into the later rounds. He becomes less tight and less cute. He won't be able to be complacent like that against Rigondeaux.
I didn't see too much of Rigondeaux's fantastic amateur career but I've seen most of his recent pro fights. I actually sparred six rounds with him at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood back in 2009. I was waiting to spar a Russian when Rigondeaux knocked his Mexican sparring partner clean out with probably the best left hand I've ever seen.
They just rolled the Mexican out the ring, then Freddie Roach asked if I'd fill in and complete Guillermo's rounds for him. I'd only had maybe 14 pro fights and just 12 amateur. He'd had over almost 400 amateur bouts and was a double Olympic and double world champion!
Thankfully, I was working with (trainer) Jesse Reid over in the US who used to coach Rigondeaux. Jesse steered me through, warned me to be mindful of his pet shot, a left screw to the body. That was the shot that wiped out Willie Casey inside a round. It had plenty of whip on it! Clearly Guillermo just uses sparring for getting his tools sharp, rather than having heavy wars and that's the right way. But I wasn't made to look a mug and it gave me a lot of confidence.
Rigondeaux was very clever, I learned so much. I used to sit at the Wild Card and watch him floating around on the pads or shadow boxing. Working inside, he'd nudge your knees to open your body up, make a gap. Then he'd capitalise. It really works and I've used that since a few times myself.
Rigondeaux's basically a pot shotter. He can be very defensive and very negative. He really sticks to his game plan and does whatever is needed to win the fight without getting hit. That said, if you do tag him, he doesn't like it. His eyes light up and he comes right back at you. You definitely can't throw any lazy shots against him. He'll make you pay for every mistake.
He's not remotely bothered if the crowd are booing because there's a lack of action. He just floats around the ring and avoids trouble but that's something I really admire. He's far less exciting but I enjoy studying him just as much as I enjoy watching Donaire. Some people say he's a lazy fighter but it's more that he just does everything so effortless. He's a real master.
He likes to control the fight and have his opponent on the end of a chain, mesmerised. Too often, it appears that the opposition are passive, content to allow him to have his own way from a safe distance so that he doesn't cut loose on them.
He's a real winner. He wastes hardly anything. If he's not absolutely sure that he's going to land a shot, he'll just walk away and make the opponent re-set. If he has a failing, it's that he doesn't let his hands go as much as he could.
You can't pot shot with Rigondeaux. He'll just play with you. For Nonito to beat him, he's going to have to set a fast pace. That's going to be difficult though because Rigondeaux is at his best when the opponent comes at him. Donaire prefers an opponent who will walk into him but Rigondeaux isn't likely to do that.
Donaire is going to have to kid Rigondeaux into leading off by using loads of head movement and by subtly moving his feet six inches to either side. He needs to attack in bursts of threes and fours; throw a couple of decoys to put Rigondeaux off balance and unable to counter, then slip in his heavier shots before the Cuban can set. He has to keep Rigondeaux moving, re-adjusting, and he needs to be accurate. Whenever he misses, Rigondeaux will make him pay. Donaire has to be very wary of getting tagged as he moves in.
Rigondeaux's key to victory is probably to make it a longer fight. That's when Donaire might make mistakes. He needs to avoid rushing his counters, be patient and gradually establish his rhythm. As he gets more comfortable, he can start to let his hands go more in the later rounds and, if he does tag Nonito, he mustn't be hesitant. He's going to have to take his chances.
The winner is likely to be the one who establishes their game plan best, under the lights, on the night. Both will be under enormous pressure and will need to stay calm. Both have great qualities and both have vulnerabilities. It could really be any type of fight; short and explosive cos both can really whack, or a cagey, tactical affair. Either could win by points or knockout though Donaire is more likely to triumph by stoppage and Riogondeaux is more likely to win if it goes to the cards.
I expect it to begin cagily with Donaire forcing the fight. If he can remain cool, it should go in his favour but, if he's reckless, Rigondeaux is capable of doing to him what Juan Manuel Marquez did to Manny Pacquiao in their fourth fight. He's got the power, timing, accuracy and eye to score a spectacular knockout himself.
They could probably fight half a dozen times and win three each, they're that closely matched. If you're really pushing me, I'll edge to Nonito only because Guillermo has shown he can be hurt almost every time he's been hit clean and Donaire can really bang. But I'd certainly not want to be putting my house on it."