Weekend Review: Rigondeaux takes enormous step
Guillermo Rigondeaux: Rigondeaux had that amazing amateur career but, after only 11 professional fights, we weren’t certain that he had the ability to duplicate his success as a prizefighter. Now we know. Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 knockouts) dominated one of the best fighters in the world – Nonito Donaire – even though screwy scores on two of three cards might suggest otherwise, as Rigondeaux won 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111 to win THE RING junior featherweight title Saturday in New York City. Donaire was thoroughly outboxed, which is saying something given the Filipino-American’s reputation and the fact he hadn’t lost in 12 years. Rigondeaux must now be considered truly elite. That doesn’t necessarily make him a star, though. He turned in a great performance but not an exciting one. He baffled Donaire with his defense skills and inflicted damage – check out Donaire’s face – but he also fought too cautiously for those who crave action. The periodic boos at Radio City Music Hall were evidence of that. And his post-fight comments – indicating he doesn’t care much what people think – probably didn’t help his cause. The Cuban wrote an incredible chapter in his career on Saturday. He might want to take the fans into account in the next.
Nonito Donaire: Did Donaire lose focus in his training? Did a nagging shoulder injury that will require surgery really bother him, as he suggested? Or did he simply run into a better boxer on Saturday? The only thing we know for sure is this: He turned in a performance many us never believed was possible of him. He seemed lost in the face of Rigondeaux’s all-around ability and quickness, both in his hands and feet. He seemed to look for that one big punch that would change everything. He couldn’t hurt Rigondeaux when he did land. And, when it seemed that Donaire’s only chance to win was to throw punches with abandon in the late rounds, he didn’t do so with any consistency. In other words, he did very little right on Saturday night. I had the same score as judge Julie Lederman, 116-111. That means Donaire won only three of the 12 rounds in our eyes. Unbelievable. Perhaps Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) became complacent after so many dominating victories. He probably figured he could just show up – even without proper preparation – and beat anyone. That sort of mindset almost always comes back to bite you. We’ll see if Donaire learned a lesson.
Filipino fight fans have had a tough stretch. First, icon Manny Pacquiao is rendered temporarily unconscious by Juan Manuel Marquez in December. Then Filipino-American Brian Viloria loses his flyweight titles to Juan Estrada on April 6. And finally Pacquiao’s heir apparent is outclassed by Rigondeaux. Whew. ÔÇª I’m getting tired of whining about poor scoring but I had to mention the cards of John Stewart (114-113) and Tom Schreck (115-112). I don’t agree with Schreck’s score (eight rounds to four) but it’s fathomable if you give Donaire every benefit of the doubt. Not so with Stewart, who somehow had Donaire winning five rounds. That simply didn’t happen. ÔÇª Rico Ramos (21-3, 11 KOs) was a one-hit wonder – literally. He was far behind on the cards when he knocked out Akifumi Shimoda in the seventh round to win the WBA junior featherweight title in 2011. He’s 1-3 since then, including a unanimous-decision loss to Oscar Gonzalez (21-2, 14 KOs) on Friday in Shelton, Wash. Ramos seems to be finished as a relevant fighter. ÔÇª
Cecilia Braekhus’ third-round knockout of Mia St. John (47-13-2, 18 KOs) on Saturday in Braekhus’ homeland of Norway was important because of St. John’s name recognition but probably didn’t prove much. St. John is 45. She should be applauded for her considerable accomplishments but now, 62 fights into her career, seems to be a good time to walk away. Braekhus (22-0, 6 KOs) should now pursue Holly Holm in the biggest possible matchup in women’s boxing. ÔÇª Angelo Santana (14-1, 11 KOs) was one Cuban who didn’t have a good weekend. He was stopped in nine rounds by Bahodir Mamadjonov (13-1, 9 KOs) on Friday in Las Vegas. Santana had been a hot prospect. Instead, Mamadjonov, a talented Uzbek living in Houston, emerged as the fighter the watch in the immediate future. ÔÇª The fight between Chris John (48-0-3, 22 KOs) and Satoshi Hosono (23-2-1, 17 KOs) on Sunday in Japan was ruled a technical draw after John was cut badly over his right eye by a head butt and couldn’t go on, spoiling an interesting matchup.