Words: Tommy Barber – London
Photos: Chris Farina – Top Rank
It may not have satisfied the blood-thirst of fight fans still enjoying highlights of the two frontrunning candidates for fight of the year – Mike Alvarado vs Brandon Rios II and Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov – but Guillermo Rigondeaux‘s ability to outpoint Nonito Donaire last Saturday, April 13 provided a fine demonstration of the sweet science in action. Below, are the three photos that sum up the night’s work for the finely-skilled Cuban wizard.
Donaire had the fanbase, the punching power, the stature in the game to attract accolades naming him the heir to the throne vacated by countryman Manny Pacquiao but all that mattered not against Rigondeaux who used a combination of timing, maneuverability, ring smarts and defensive nous to frustrate and perplex one of the most heavily-promoted Top Rank-backed boxers.
According to punch stats released by HBO during their broadcast, Rigondeaux threw 396 shots and found success 33 percent of the time to land 129 times. All these statistics are greater than Nonito’s numbers who threw 352, landed 82 times to create a 23 percent success rate.
Compubox stats reveal a similar pattern and point to Rigondeaux being the far more effective fighter. Guillermo outlanded Donaire in an astonishing 11 rounds, with only the 10th round – where Rigondeaux suffered a knockdown – being the one Donaire was most successful in.
Donaire refused to accept defeat post-fight and between himself and promoter Bob Arum, a move north, to the 126lb division, looks likely. The excuses, though, perhaps discredit what is and should always be, a tactically astute victory for an athlete who made just his 12th appearance in the professional circuit. Rigondeaux linked up with his former amateur coach Pedro Diaz for his night in New York and the two, pictured below, stuck to a winning game-plan throughout the contest.
Alan Dawson – London
Nonito Donaire suffered a second career defeat at the hands of Guillermo Rigondeaux at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Saturday, April 13. In an unexciting yet tactical bout, Rigondeaux continually confounded Donaire with a technical potshot-and-move strategy that was upset in the tenth when the Cuban was knocked down. With victory, WBA super bantamweight belt holder Rigondeaux annexed the WBO world title.
Official verdict: Rigondeaux by way of UD (114-113, 115-112 and 116-111).
Both southpaw Rigondeaux and orthodox fighter Donaire maneuvered their feet into position to launch straight shots with their power mitt within the first minute of the opening round. Whilst their respective body languages lived up to their pre-fight promise that there would be bad intentions behind their respective strategies, there was little to separate the pugilists after three minutes of tentative, cerebral combat aside from one straight left shot from Guillermo that forced Nonito onto the back-foot.
In the second session, Rigondeaux strived to goad Donaire into action using a combination of feints and inviting footwork. Midway through the round, Rigo punched to the body, landed a combination upstairs and had one power punch blocked by a Donaire who was yet to find his rhythm despite scoring some distinctive marking over the eye/brow region of Rigondeaux.
Renowned trainer Robert Garcia barked Johnny Cash instructions during the third round, imploring his charge Donaire to “get rhythm!” to “get rhythm in front!” and “always on the jab!” While Donaire had managed to punch and box his way into the fight in the third, that rhythm that Garcia pined after proved hard for Donaire to find largely because of Rigondeaux’s evasive and intuitive movement.
Any success Donaire aimed to capitalise on in the fourth round was shut down by Rigondeaux with a counter-punching method. Donaire, the aggressor, continually attempted to find a way in with a crowd-pleasing attack while Rigondeaux was content boxing from mid-range and waiting to land one big shot – his straight left hand. Moments before the bell, a millisecond street fight broke out that began because of an accurate crack dispatched by Donaire.
In the fifth, ring general Donaire dictated the pace of the fight. While Nonito owned the central space of the ring, Rigondeaux danced… even sprinted, around the periphery. Even though Donaire possessed a pound-for-pound ranking and a 2012 trainer of the year winning coach in Robert Garcia, he did not target Guillermo’s body enough in order to slow the Cuban’s running. This allowed Rigo to box his fight, not Nonito’s.
In the sixth, Rigondeaux secured the round’s most meaningful punches with a body-bound then upstairs combination. The competitive and strategic encounter between the super bantamweight division’s two most well-known names was underlined by that two-punch move arguably winning Rigondeaux the round alone. Otherwise, there was little action.
Yes, the first half of the contest was epitomised by one-pace but that was something that threatened to change in the seventh round as Donaire, with his fast hands, cannoned a three-punch combo into Rigondeaux’s frame. However, that intention proved exclusive to the beginning of the stanza as, for the rest of the round, Rigondeaux swatted and parried punches away with his gloves in what had become a frustrating, chess-like affair for the spectator.
In the eight and ninth rounds, the pace of the fight continued to be dictated by the Cuban, whose refusal to engage with the Filipino Flash annoyed the sell-out New York crowd. While Guillermo allowed his fists to fly, most of his shots were blocked harmlessly by Donaire’s gloves.
“You gotta think about your family, about your baby,” said Garcia to Donaire moments before the tenth round. Robert, the sport’s fastest-rising elite-level trainer, used family as a source of motivation and it proved to be inspired as Donaire floored Rigondeaux by utilising a short-range left hand mere minutes after the speech. Rigo struggled to regain his composure, showed un-sturdy legs but had enough wherewithal to use the full space of the ring to his advantage.
Rigondeaux had settled down in the championship rounds and even hurt Donaire at the beginning of the final round. Donaire was largely forced to box one-handed for the last three minutes as he kept his right hand tight to his right eye… something that had been swelling profusely, perhaps due to a rogue thumbing early in the round.
When the bell signified the end of competition, Donaire received treatment for an eye appearing more grotesque by the second. Rigondeaux, conversely, mounted a neutral turnbuckle and saluted the East Coast fight fans convinced he had just secured himself the most momentous victory of his professional career to date.
“I prepared myself well. Everyone has their opinion, about my amateur background, but I proved myself [as a professional] today,” said Rigo to Top Rank TV after receiving a unanimous nod by the three judges. “Everybody talked about how Rigondeaux was going to lose today but I proved that I am the best 122lb fighter in the world. I’m here, ready to fight anybody. I don’t hide, I don’t duck!”
Rigondeaux moves to 12-0-0, 8ko with the win, while Donaire dropped to 31-2-0, 20ko.
Alan Dawson – London
On Saturday, April 13 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, two-time Olympic gold medal winner Guillermo Rigondeaux intends on fighting fire with fire against the typically aggressive and knockout hungry Nonito Donaire. Regarded to be two of the three finest fighters the super bantamweight division has to offer, both boxers bring an alphabet title to duel, whilst the prestigious The Ring magazine belt will also be on the line.
“Nonito is a great tactician and has enormous power so I think it’s going to be an exciting fight,” said Guillermo (11-0-0, 8ko), ahead of fight night.
Donaire (31-1-0, 20ko) represents one of the few boxers analysts agree to be a consensus top five pound-for-pound professional. His victories over Vic Darchinyan, Wladimir Sidorenko, Fernando Montiel, Toshiaki Nishioka and, his most recent opponent, Jorge Arce, demonstrate his ability to retain his power despite traversing through the flyweight, bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions.
Against Rigondeaux, he also has a height and reach advantage but the Cuban – who linked up with his amateur mentor Pedro Diaz for this marquee showdown – believes the best strategy to combat Donaire’s thumping nature is to respond in kind.
“[Donaire] is a great boxer and a great technician. He is a boxer that acts on reaction. Action / reaction – he takes it from there. In the moment of the fight he reacts. He really has no strategy with the length of his arms. He reacts in the ring.
“I will try to engage more than I have in the past,” noted Guillermo. “I want to give the fans what they want to see. Nonito is an aggressive boxer and I will be coming for him. I expect the same from Nonito. I think there are going to be a lot of fireworks.”
On The Beak staff writer
Super bantamweight rivals and Top Rank stablemate fighters Nonito Donaire (31-1-0, 20ko) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0-0, 8ko) went face-to-face for the final time on Friday, April 12, one day prior to their world title unification bout at Radio City Music Hall, New York. Donaire, who weighed in at 121.6lbs, looked by far the taller, longer and rangier of the two while Guillermo, who scaled in at 121.5lbs, cut a far more muscular frame.
Alan Dawson – London
Martin Murray picked up the “interim” WBA middleweight world title on Saturday, November 24 and punctuated his status as a world-level operator with a dominant performance over unheralded opponent Jorge Navarro at the Manchester Arena. Having tied with Felix Sturm in Germany, Murray now wants to sign a contract to challenge Sergio Martinez in Argentina for the lineal championship.
Official verdict: Murray by way of 6th Rd TKO.
For the first minute in the opening round, Murray (25-0-1, 11ko) tentatively boxed on the back-foot, however, after an initial assessment of his largely unknown opponent, Murray began to fight with confidence, with aggression and also with power. The Englishman, frustrated by an inability to be matched with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in June due to Visa issues, took anger out on Venezuelan power puncher Navarro (12-0-1, 10ko) and caught the unbeaten Bolivar bruiser with a straight right, jellying his knees and winning a knockdown.
Murray had ten seconds left on the ring clock in the first stanza and flurried relentlessly in a bid to win an early finish and an early bath, but Navarro survived the onslaught, recuperated during the minute break but was unable to box his way back into the fight in the second round. Murray patiently probed. The second chapter lacked the drama of the first, but Murray stuck to a disciplined approach and sought to take the wind out of his man’s sails before puncturing the hull with holes and drowning the vessel. His one-two was thrown well – and he landed numerous short-range right hands to the body before targeting the chin.
Despite carrying an impressive knockout ratio, Navarro’s attack was far too predictable and one-dimensional. He telegraphed too many of his shots and Murray was able to envision the shots the 27-year-old was ready to throw. Murray won all the rounds… he coasted through the third, cut Navarro’s skin open in the fourth and bamboozled his opponent with jabs, right crosses and fast combinations in the fifth. In truth, Murray could have had Navarro on his back with the fight finished earlier in the contest but was likely advised by his corner to ease off the accelerator and gain some rounds having been away from a professional prize ring since June.
Navarro was on his knees and receiving another eight count in the sixth round. Navarro appeared loathe to beat the count, looking over to his corner for assistance but was allowed to box on… just not for long. Murray preserved his undefeated streak, enhanced his global ranking and secured his technical knockout victory mere moments later when he ransacked the South American with body-bound flurrying, forcing Navarro’s corner to throw in the white towel.
“We knew he could punch… our plan was to ease our way in, get inside, break his heart,” said Murray to Primetime before commenting on whom he wants to challenge next. “I want to be in big world title fights. We’ve got some big fights to look forward to. As we showed in Germany, we’d fight anybody. I’d love to fight [Sergio Martinez] and I’d go to Argentina to beat him.”
On the undercard, rising bantamweight prospect Scott Quigg (25-0-1, 18ko) obtained contender status with his stoppage victory over Rendall Munroe. Quigg forced his counterpart to his on two occasions in the sixth round. The first, was a result of a left hook crack to the left side of Munroe’s ribs. The former world title challenger beat the count, but was felled moments later and, in obvious pain, was counted out by referee Terry O’Connor. With the victory, Quigg claimed the “interim” version of the WBA’s super bantamweight world title.
On The Beak – Admin
American super bantamweight Rico Ramos scored a big win over a gritty Efrain Esquivias at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, California on Saturday, June 23. The two fighters, who had battled more than once during their amateur careers, had the capacity crowd on their feet for all eight rounds of their brawl. Having lost his world title and his undefeated record this past January, Ramos had all the motivation he needed to take home a majority decision.
With scores of 78-74, 78-74 and 76-76, Ramos improved to 21-1, 11ko as Esquivias – who suffered his first loss – fell to 16-1, 9ko. On his defeated opponent, Ramos – a 25-year-old dubbed Suavecito – said: “He was tough, I knew he was going to be tough. He came forward at me a lot like I remember from fighting him in amateurs, but we prepared for that and we were ready for him.
“He went hard to the body, and so I came back with body shots of my own, and I was landing the cleaner shots. It feels great to be back in the win column. I’ll be coming back for my belt soon.”
The Telefutura broadcast opened up with a crowd-pleasing super flyweight attraction between Matthew Villanueva and Bruno Escalante. The 115lb sluggers exchanged several swings of momentum and huge shots throughout the eight round fight. Both fighters displayed incredible power shots as well as great body and head movement to avoid the oncoming shots.
“That was the toughest fight I’ve ever had,” said Villanueva of Escalante. “He came to win, and he was much stronger than I thought. The kid can take a punch, he was taking everything but the kitchen sink. I really thought that the ref was going to come in and stop it on a few occasions when I was getting him against the ropes and just tagging him, but he stuck in there and made it exciting.”
John Molina Jr (24-1, 19ko) outworked his opponent Miguel Angel Munguia for the duration of their eight round attraction and walked away with a unanimous decision, scoring 80-69 on all three judges scorecards. The world-rated lightweight contender will be fighting Antonio Demarco for the WBC world championship on September 8 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California beneath Andre Ward and Chad Dawson’s super middleweight showdown.
“It was a great fight,” said Molina. “I got the rust off. It was exactly what I needed to get ready for Demarco. I hope they were watching, because I’m hungry and I’m coming for him.”
Fans also enjoyed a heavyweight collision between Philadelphia’s undefeated Malik ‘King’ Scott and Alvaro Morales. Scott was the aggressor for the entirety of the six round bout, and was awarded a unanimous decision victory shutting out his opponent 60-54 on all scorecards. Scott improves his record to 34-0-0, 11ko.
In the first fight of the evening, Los Angeles based junior middleweight John Hays looked impressive in his pro debut, scoring a four round shutout over Santa Barbara’s Raymundo Inda.
After the Ramos bout, fans who wanted more action were treated to a walkout bout featuring 22-year-old Jessie Villanueva (the younger brother of Matthew), who spoiled the pro debut of Frank Liera of Los Angeles with a first round knockout. Villanueva improves his record to 3-0 with all wins coming by KO.
Alan Dawson – London
The well-publicised super bantamweight contest that pitted Rendall Munroe against Scott Quigg – two of Britain’s top fighters at the weight – ended in disappointing fashion on Saturday, June 16 as an accidental clash of heads caused Munroe to bleed profusely from the eyebrow. As the contest had only just entered into it’s third round, a technical draw was announced at the Velodrome in Manchester, however, a rematch will no doubt be booked…
Official verdict: Technical draw due to Munroe cut in round three.
“We need to do it again, it’s number one in the country against number two,” said promoter Ricky Hatton to Sky Sports Two. “Munroe needs to get the cut looked at. The minute the cut is healed up, it’s an immediate rematch.”
The Quigg – Munroe fight, in an event dubbed Road to Glory, received international interest due to the clash of styles and it’s ‘crossroads’ nature. And, while Munroe was the accomplished distance fighter, the established campaigner at the highest of levels and could brag a sterling resume and body of work, it was Quigg who entered the ring second and took command of the red corner.
This, though, was somewhat apt considering the column inches Quigg has attracted during his ascendancy thus far but, in the opening round, it was Munroe who went about his business while Quigg – in contrast – was far too tentative in the opening minute, perhaps showing signs of his relative inexperience at this stage.
Any nerves Quigg had in the opening session, though, appeared to have vanished by round two as Quigg boxed with confidence, landed with his acclaimed power, made Munroe miss, countered his man and was – largely – accurate. Munroe’s wide shots, such as the left hook, were blocked by Quigg’s well-placed gloves and, just as the crowd were beginning to get increasingly roused by the in-ring action, the fight was called off on account of an angry cut suffered by Munroe when the heads accidentally came together.
The laceration was a bad one and wept claret into his eye, over his nose and the 32-year-old was sporting a ghastly mask of blood within seconds, prompting the ringside doctor to advise the referee to call the contest off. As a result, both fighters shared a technical draw.
“That’s how it is, that’s the game, I thought I had his number, I was just warming up [and] I hadn’t even started,” assessed Munroe (24-2-1, 10ko) post-fight. “I’m more frustrated I didn’t get to take a new belt to take home to my kids.”
Quigg (24-0-1, 17ko) added: “We both came to brawl… he leaned in, I leaned in, that’s boxing innit. After two rounds, everything was going to plan. We had a perfect training camp but we didn’t get the perfect fight.”
Alan Dawson – London
Cuban southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux produced masterfully outclassed Teon Kennedy on Saturday, June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as the 31-year-old, in his tenth professional fight, scored five knockdowns and a technical knockout victory in a power punch perfect performance. In unorthodox fashion, Rigo abandoned the jab and instead relied upon the incredible variety of ways he could land his left fist.
Official verdict: Rigondeaux by way of fifth round TKO.
The variety of Rigondeaux’s fistic weaponry was on display within the opening 90 seconds and involved particularly devastating straight left punches that continually buckled the knees of Kennedy. This, combined with uppercuts, body blows and left hooks countered over the right hand were all thrown at an astonishingly fast pace and ultimately proved too much for Kennedy to handle in the opening session. The challenger for Guillermo’s WBA super bantamweight world title belt even touched down on the canvas with a glove following an unanswered bombardment of shots but composed himself in order to hear the bell that closed round one.
Despite his technical prowess and amateur background, Rigondeaux did not operate behind the jab and, when Kennedy took a step forward, he was oft depleted of energy and confidence due to a precise left uppercut. In the final minute of the second stanza, Rigo twice decked Kennedy… the first (and second of the night) was caused by a crisp right hand while the next knockdown arrived mere moments later as Teon had no clear answer for the unrelenting accuracy of Guillermo’s fists.
Kennedy sharpened up his defences in the third round and was alert to Rigondeaux’s left hand. A boxer blessed with fine balance and a spatial appreciation inside the ring, Rigondeaux’s defensive capability perplexed Kennedy and, in the fourth, the Cuban could be seen slipping and sliding out of harm’s way. With a clean left straight landing flush on the chin, Kennedy was felled again in the fourth but protested the decision of the referee – Russell Mora – to administer a count as he claimed he simultaneously received a step on his foot.
At the beginning of the fifth round, Rigondeaux scored his fifth knockdown – again with a chin-bound fist – and while Kennedy did not appear truly hurt, the beatdown had been so dominant that Mora waved the bout off and awarded a technical knockout Rigondeaux’s way. With the resounding victory, Rigo upped his record to 10-0-0, 8ko, made a successful first defence of his world championship at 122lbs and, considering the headlines and buzz his triumph will create, could move closer to a fight of significance with fellow world titlist Nonito Donaire.
Tommy Barber – London
Maturing super bantamweight prospect Carl Frampton rose to 14-0-0, 9ko as he produced a cultured display to outbox erstwhile undefeated Mexican Raul Hirales on Saturday, May 26 at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham. Frampton was patient, precise and is fast beginning to live up to his acclaim as he showed different facets to his boxing style that are all proving to be equally reliable.
Official verdict: Frampton wins by way of UD (scores: 120-108, 119-109 x 2).
“[That was] easily the toughest [fight],” said Frampton to Sky Sports One after the scorecards were announced. “Like the scores say I only lost one round and I boxed as well as I ever did as a professional… I hit him loads clean!”
Clean punching was not the only talking point analysts will take away from Frampton’s performance against Hirales as he boxed a very clever fight as early as round one, where he showed caution and relinquished the centre of the ring to Hirales during the opening swordsmanship. From there, the Northern Irish 25-year-old – who bolsters his reputation from fight to fight – bossed Hirales with precise single-fire shots and intuitive movement.
The Jackal thumped right hands into Hirales’ ribs and darted out of the pocket before the return fire, leaving the Mexican with no flesh to connect with so the consequent air-shot left the visiting pugilist off-balance. Frampton’s right hand lead shots in the second round also left Hirales perplexed and it fast became clear Frampton was the heavier hitter.
In the third, Frampton rocked Hirales onto the backfoot and foiled his man with his movements to the left, parrying of the incoming straight rights, the countering left hands and the clubbing rights over the top. Frampton boxed in a more cerebral fashion than he perhaps had done before and against Hirales it worked to tremendous effect but, in the fourth, there was more of a trade-off with Carl just gaining the upper hand in each altercation.
Hirales’ best moments were seldom, but when Frampton had his back to the ropes, he looked his most vulnerable as the Mexican could work from short-range while what had been a frustratingly elusive target had less room to maneuvre himself into.
One key factor in the lack of blood and guts may have been the 12-round distance in the back of each fighters’ minds. Neither man had gone past ten rounds (30 minutes) prior to May 26 and so preservation of stamina could well have been fundamental, especially in Frampton’s approach.
Effectively keeping himself out of harm’s way, showing good head movement to back away from shots, together with fine counter-punching, Frampton may have done enough to just win the points during rounds six to nine but the style will not have been swashbuckling enough to win him more fans during an event broadcast internationally. What was impressive, though, despite the inability to rouse the 10,000 strong crowd, was that Frampton nullified an undefeated fighter’s tactics whilst imposing his own.
The championship rounds were owned by Frampton who was boss, like he was during the opening third of the contest. In the 12th and final round, Frampton remained slick, kept a high and tight guard when Hirales combo’d, but was also stringent on maintaining attention to the body and devoted to accurate punches.
Frampton’s past fights showed he had grit and concussive power but against Hirales, he showed he was disciplined, could follow a gameplan, his coach’s instruction and box. His adviser, Barry McGuigan, commented: “It’s hard not to be happy, I’m a bit hoarse now! It was a great display, he showed he could box. [Hirales] was a tough, genuine fighter. This kid [Carl] is a world class fighter.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn added that they would now gun for Kiko Martinez: “That was the perfect opponent for a step-up, we’ll get ranked now by the IBF and we hope to get Kiko Martinez.”
With the win, Frampton became the IBF intercontinental champion at super bantamweight.
On The Beak – Admin
Scott Quigg is shocked that bookmakers have him as favourite to beat Rendall Munroe on Saturday, June 16. Quigg challenges Munroe for the vacant interim WBA super bantamweight crown on Hatton Promotions ‘Road To Glory’ bill at Manchester Velodrome and, although Quigg is British champion and undefeated in 24 fights, the Leicester southpaw is a former European champion and challenged Toshiaki Nishioka for the WBC crown.
Bury’s Quigg, 23, said: “Bookies have me as favourite which is strange. I am the underdog. What Rendall has achieved and the level he has fought at is fantastic. It is a massive step up from where I have been fighting. I have only had two major championship fights and people are saying my opponents Jason Booth and Jamie Arthur had seen their best days.
“I am not disagreeing and realise how much I’ll be up against it. I haven’t even touched his level, but I know what I’m capable of doing. There is no pressure on me. The only pressure I have is the fear of losing.
“On paper he should turn up and win, but I am one million per-cent confident I will win.”
The ‘Road To Glory’ bill also features a vacant European light-middleweight title fight between Ryan Rhodes and Sergey Rabchenko, Martin Murray is in championship action and Richard Towers faces Michael Wallisch for the vacant EU heavyweight crown.