Donaire-Rigondeaux to unify WBO, WBA belts

Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. and two-time Cuban Olympic medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux mix it up Saturday (Sunday in Manila) and decide who between them emerge as the unified world super bantamweight champion at the historic Radio Music Hall in New York City.

Donaire, a four-time world champion who, at one time or another wore the flyweight and bantamweight belts, making him one of the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, is the current World Boxing Organization (WBO) 122-pound titleholder, while Rigondeaux holds the World Boxing Association (WBA) version of the division.

Whoever remains standing after their 12-round showdown will be acclaimed the world’s best in the junior featherweight class.

The 30-year-old California-based Filipino, who only two days ago was the recipient of the “Fighter of the Year” honor from the Boxing Writers Association of America and who seized the division title last year, will be defending it for the fourth time against his challenger whom he was reluctant to fight at first because of the Cuban’s young 11-0 with 8 knockouts professional career.

The 32-year-old Cuban defector became the WBA world title holder in just his ninth pro-fight. This is the first time in 13 years that the Radio City Music Hall, known in staging spectacular entertainment show, will be hosting a boxing match. And if earlier reports were true, a sellout crowd is expected to watch this battle between two fighters of contrasting styles.

While Rigondeaux owns the distinction of the best amateur in his era having fought 400 plus fights and capping his non-professional career by gifting his country a pair of Olympic gold medals, he has yet to face somebody of Donaire’s caliber in his early pay-for-pay campaign.

The Filipino pride’s left hook is considered as the heaviest and most lethal that none of his recent opponents escaped unharmed even those who ended up surviving the route.

The Cuban has not yet partnered inside the square arena a dancer as quick as the Fil-American. His career early as a pro has been a roller-coaster ride while Donaire’s, in the last five years, has been smooth as exemplified by sweeping his four fights in 2012, the most by any fighter, two via stoppage.

Rigondeaux struggled in winning over Robert Marroquin in his last outing and was floored by Ricardo Cordoba earlier in their battle in 2010 needing to dance away from harm before the referee raised his hands in the end.

Donaire earned the nod of members of the BWAA to earn the honor “Fighter of 2012” first with a split decision over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. to crown himself the super-bantamweight kingpin of WBO. He then unanimously disposed off Jeffrey Mathebula, stopped Japanese pound-for-pound contender Toshiaki Nishioka in the ninth before capping the most successful year of his calling with another abbreviated triumph over Mexican legend Jorge Arce.

Both pronounced themselves in tip-top shape at the end of their respective camps with Donaire, who weighed 121.6 pounds during the official weigh-in, vowing to win via knockout. Rigondeaux, who tipped the scale at 121.5, opting just to win impressively.

Donaire said his quickness, power and experience should carry him to another blockbusting performance as he promised to dedicate this fight to his country of birth and his countrymen.

Rigondeaux, for his part, vowed to deviate from his wait-and-see, counterpunching style to come and mix it up with his Filipino rival.

Philippines News agency