Fury, Cunningham, Stevens, Findley and others from Main Events offered their opinions on who will win Saturday night’s HBO-televised clash at New York’s Radio City Music Hall between RING, IBF and WBO junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) and WBA counterpart Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs).
Fury: “I pick Donaire. He’s just too classy and has the pro experience to back him up. Rigondeaux may be dangerous the first few rounds, but the longer the fight goes, the more that pro experience will show. This is not really a fight that I would bet on. It could be close.”
Cunningham: “I think Donaire is going to shock a lot of people. He performs exceptionally well when the opponent is great. He steps up very well to the challenge. I think this will be a good fight.”
Stevens: “I think this is an excellent match up, but I think Donaire is going to take the win by knockout.”
Findley: “I’ve got Donaire winning. He just has too much experience in big fights as compared to Rigondeaux.”
Jolene Mizzone, Main Events matchmaker: “I would have to pick Donaire. He’s far more professional and has more experience than Rigondeaux. I think it goes the distance and Donaire will win a close decision.”
Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO: “I pick Donaire. It is a very good fight. While there is no doubt that Rigondeaux was one of the greatest amateurs ever, I think that Donaire’s superior experience in the pro ranks will give him the edge.
“Donaire is a true student of the sport, and he fights with a passion and intensity that I just don’t see in Rigondeaux, who, on the other hand, is an impressive technician. It is a very interesting match-up.”
Fury-Cunningham will take place over the course of a 90-minute program from 9:30 p.m. in the United Kingdom, while NBC will be airing a special two-hour afternoon presentation.
Fury will be making his American debut as part of his quest to stake his claim as the heir apparent to RING, IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and his older brother, WBC titleholder Vitali Klitschko.
TRAINER ROBERT GARCIA ON THE REPUTATION OF CUBAN FIGHTERS
Although Rigondeaux is perhaps the most successful amateur boxer ever, Donaire’s trainer, Robert Garcia, addressed the notion of Rigondeaux proving himself worthy of superstar status — something that has been elusive on the professional level for Cuban fighters.
“It’s always been like that. They get to a certain point and that’s it. That’s all that they got,” said Garcia. “Maybe it’s because of all of the amateur experience, or maybe it’s because of everything that they’ve done in the amateurs. Over 400 fights, a two-time Olympic gold medalist. You know, we’ve had great ones.”
As a professional, Robert Garcia was 35-3 with 25 KOs, winning the IBF junior lightweight title. In the next-to-last fight of his career in January of 2001, Garcia was knocked out in the ninth round by Joel Casamayor, a former Olympic gold medalist and ex-beltholder.
“Casamayor was a great champion. But he was never that superstar that others like Mexico has produced, that the Philippines has produced and that the United States has produced. There never has been one there. We do admire their careers, and especially when they have to defect,” said Garcia.
“They’re often leaving their countries and leaving their families behind. It takes a lot, so I admire Rigondeaux, and I told him right there when I was up talking. I admire that, knowing that you can never go back, so that’s hard. So we do respect that, but on Saturday night, inside the ring, we’ve got to do our job.”
LUIS ARIAS FACES DONYIL LIVINGSTON ON FLOYD MAYWEATHER-ROBERT GUERRERO CARD
Mayweather Promotions’ prospect Luis Arias (4-0, 3 KOs), a 22-year-old out of Milwaukee, Wis., will pursue his fourth straight knockout victory against middleweight rival Donyil Livingston on the undercard of the Showttime Pay Per View-televised May 4 main event featuring Floyd Mayweather Jr. against Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
A 28-year-old from Palmdale, Calif., Livingston (8-2-1, 4 KOs) is trying to rebound from back-to-back losses against Elie Augustama and Paul Mendez, the first by split-decision in March of last year and the second by seventh-round knockout in September.
Livingston has been serving as a sparring partner for WBA junior middleweight beltholder Austin Trout in advance of his April 20 clash with WBC counterpart Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Showtime at The Alamodome in San Antonio.
“The kid is on fire right now, but he’s never seen anyone like me, and it’s going to be too much too soon,” said Livingston. “I give him credit for stepping up like this because most fighters try to pad their record at such an early stage. I’ll get the win and he’ll get the learning experience. I think that’s a fair trade.”
CLEOTIS PENDARVIS-DIERRY JEAN SLATED FOR MAY 10
Junior welterweight Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (17-3-1, 5 KOs), of Los Angeles, will pursue his seventh straight win against Dierry “Dougy Style” Jean (24-0, 16 KOs) in an IBF eliminator bout on a May 10, Friday night edition of ShoBox: The Next Generation from the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Ok.
In the televised co-feature, middleweight John “Apollo Kidd” Thompson (11-0, 4 KOs), of Newark, N.J., will face Taureano Johnson (14-0, 10 KOs), a resident of Georgia who is originally from Nassau, Bahamas.
Jean-Pendarvis is an initial endeavor by Los Angeles-based co-promoter Pitbull Boxing Promotions, which is being run by Vice President of Operations Rachel Charles, a former publicist, and Diane Vara.
The company is the brainchild of Herb Hudson, owner of the famous Roscoe’s House of Chicken n’ Waffles chain and the force behind Pitbull Energy Products.
UNBEATEN MOISES FLORES SIGNS WITH ACQUINITY SPORTS
Mexican junior featherweight prospect Moises “El Chuky” Flores (18-0, 13 KOs) has signed an exclusive promotional contract with Acquinity Sports. A 26-year-old who has fought exclusively in Mexico, Flores is coming off February’s second-round knockout of Rodolfo Hernandez.
“I’m excited and very happy to have reached an agreement with Acquinity Sports. We are ready to continue my winning streak in the United States,” said Flores.
“I am a very dedicated worker who knows all the benefits Acquinity Sports provides in the U.S. will get me much closer to reaching my goals.”
In describing its mission, the website for Acquinity states: “Acquinity Sports is committed to changing traditional boxing promotion by advocating for our fightersÔÇÜ success inside the ring and out, throughout their professional careers and into retirement.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]