Two-division titleholder Abner Mares believes that RING junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire will win by knockout against southpaw WBA counterpart Guillermo Rigondeaux in an HBO-televised clash from New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Saturday.
A 27-year-old Southern California-based Mexican national, Mares (25-0-1, 13 knockouts) elected to rise into the 126-pound division after his failure to secure a unification bout with Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs), who will face a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs), one of Cuba’s most decorated amateurs.
“It is an an intriguing fight. I would be lying if I said that I was not at all interested in the result of that fight,” said Mares, who vacated the WBC’s 122-pound belt before lining up his 126-pound debut in pursuit of the WBC’s featherweight belt against fellow Mexican Olympian Daniel Ponce de Leon (44-4, 35 KOs) on May 4.
“It is going to be a very, very interesting fight. Rigondeaux, though, the feeling is that he doesn’t have the experience as a professional. He brings in a great, great amateur resume though, having fought something like over 300 or 400 fights. That’s a lot of fights, so he brings in all of that experience.”
Donaire is coming off December’s third-round knockout of Mexican veteran Jorge Arce in December, this, after Mares called out Donaire following his own November unanimous decision over WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs). Mares dropped Moreno during the fifth round of the Showtime-televised bout that ended the Panamanian’s 27-bout winning streak.
Donaire made his 122-pound debut against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in February of 2012, and followed that up with a unanimous decision over South Africa’s Jeffrey Mathebula for the IBF title in July.
Donaire had been known for his devastating power as a 118-pounder, highlighted by a second-round knockout that dethroned Fernando Montiel as WBO and WBC titleholder in February of 2011.
The win over Montiel was the second for Donaire as a bantamweight, following a fourth-round knockout of Volodymyr Sydorenko in December of 2010. Sydorenko’s nose was broken during a bout in which he was dropped three times.
“Rigondeaux is very talented, though,” said Mares, “so do think that he will give Nonito some early trouble.”
Rigondeaux had scored three straight knockout victories prior to September’s unanimous decision victory over Robert Marroquin.
“I think that at the end of the day, Nonito’s power and his ability to move and his general professional experience is going to get the best of Rigondeaux that night,” said Mares. “I see Nonito winning by knockout. I estimate a seven-round knockout by Nonito if Rigondeaux doesn’t just run and box all night.”
Meanwhile, Mares-Ponce de Leon will take place on the May 4 Showtime-televised main event featuring a defense by WBC welterweight beltholder Floyd Mayweather against Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Over a more than a 20-month span as a bantamweight through December of 2011, Mares twice defeated ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko, earned a decision over former beltholder Vic Darchinyan and battled to a draw with then-beltholder Yonnhy Perez.
After defeating Agbeko by consecutive majority and unanimous decisions, the latter in December of 2011, Mares rose to 122 pounds for a unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Eric Morel in April to earn the WBC’s belt that had been vacated by Nishioka.
As for Donaire-Rigondeaux, Mares offered a final thought.
“It might be a chess match for maybe the first three rounds, but I think that Nonito will finally figure out Rigondeaux’s style and wait for Rigondeaux to throw that left and then counter-punch with that good left hand that Nonito has,” said Mares.
“Or, he could get Rigondeaux with the straight right hand. Either one of them. Rigondeaux times his one-two really well, but he throws it so infrequently that you don’t get to know when he’s going to throw it. Nonito is a very smart fighter, and he’s going to counter and take advantage of that.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]