MANILA, Philippines – Cuban fighter Guillermo Rigondeaux spent the entire night frustrating Nonito Donaire with his slickness, hammering out a unanimous decision victory to become the WBO and WBA super bantamweight champion during their unification showdown at the Radio City Music Hall in New York today.
Rigondeaux survived a 10th round knockdown after Donaire caught him with a booming overhand right during an exchange, then cut the Filipino-American in the final round to pocket the fight.
“I prepared myself and it all showed today,” Rigondeaux said in a post-fight interview.
“People doubted that I won’t show up in the fight and that I would lose. But today I proved it – I’m the best 122-pounder in the world,” he added.
The scores were 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111 for Rigondeaux, who showed his boxing skills that were honed by an extensive amateur background as a member of the Cuban national boxing team.
The fight started out – and mostly turned out to be – as a chess match, with both fighters wary of each other. Rigondeaux rocked Donaire in the first round and continued to be elusive as the latter kept pressing the action.
Donaire spent the entire fight stalking Rigondeaux, who was content to cut off the ring while throwing occasional counters to earn the rounds.
“It was close. I don’t think he won the fight… I want a rematch. But he did well,” said Donaire, who nursed a cut in the right eye after getting tagged with a straight left by Rigondeaux in the 12th round.
“It was stupid. I got careless and got caught,” added Donaire. “We made a mistake. I made a mistake. I didn't study the fight, and I should've."
The victory improved Rigondeaux's record to 12-0, with 8 KOs. Donaire, meanwhile, saw his 12-year, 30-fight winning streak come to a halt and suffered just the second loss of his professional career. His record is now 31-2, with 20 KOs.