MANILA, Philippines – Nonito Donaire’s embarrassing loss to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in April 2013 wound up helping “The Filipino Flash” in more ways than one as it helped him recover the fire that he had lost after a 12-year winning streak.
Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, dominated Donaire when they fought in April 2013, ending the Filipino’s 29-fight winning streak. The loss was made more painful by the fact that Donaire had been named the 2012 Fighter of the Year just days before fighting the Cuban.
“I think every defeat will cost you, but every defeat is also worth 10 years of experience,” said Donaire on Monday. “For 12 years, I was undefeated.”
“But in that defeat, I’ve learned so much more than in the 12 years that I was undefeated,” he revealed.
Donaire admitted that his long winning streak put his mentality on “standby mode,” and that he was going through the motions even in training.
But losing to Rigondeaux was a wake-up call. “It reminds you of why you never want to be defeated,” he said.
“That was the one thing that reminded me that you should never look around you and just focus on what’s in front of you. It doesn’t matter who it is or what it is. If you want to win and you want to be where you’re at, you gotta keep at it,” said Donaire.
Donaire acknowledged that he was not fully focused going into the bout against Rigondeaux, as his wife, Rachel, was then pregnant with their first child, now eight-month old Jarel.
“A lot of things were going on,” he admitted. “But it was (also) the lack of things, the lack of desire. Because I’ve been winning so much, that in that 12 rounds, it diminished, and the focus and level of determination when you’re training, it’s not the same.”
Donaire managed to recover with a ninth round stoppage of Armenian rival Vic Darchinyan in their rematch last November, but it was a fight that he was losing before pulling out the dramatic victory.
He will return to the ring in May against South African champion Simpiwe Vetyeka, and “The Filipino Flash” vowed to be in top form for that championship fight.
“I think I’m gonna come back a lot stronger, a lot more focused, and a lot more determined (to show) that they haven’t seen the best from me yet,” Donaire said.