But sports analysts are divided
MANILA, Philippines – At least three of Nonito Donaire’s fellow boxers are expecting “The Filipino Flash” to defeat Cuban opponent Guillermo Rigondeaux when they meet at the Radio Music Hall in New York City this Saturday.
Donaire and Rigondeaux will figure in a title-unification fight, with the Filipino putting his World Boxing Organization and The RING super bantamweight belts on the line, while the Cuban is risking his World Boxing Association strap.
In an interview with RingTV, boxers Robert Guerrero, Paulie Malignaggi and Abner Mares all predicted a victory for Donaire.
“Nonito Donaire is at the top of his game right now,” said Guerrero, who like Donaire hails from the Bay Area. “Although Guillermo Rigondeaux is a very good fighter, Nonito is on another level.”
“I see this fight being real competitive in the early rounds, but as the fight goes on, I see Nonito getting into a groove and ending this fight by KO (knockout) in the eighth round,” he predicted.
Malignaggi, the WBA welterweight champion, said it was a tough fight to predict but ultimately sided with “The Filipino Flash.”
“For all of Nonito Donaire’s advantages in career pro experience, we have to keep in mind that Guillermo Rigondeaux has even more than that in high-level amateur experience,” Malignaggi said.
Rigondeaux is a former two-time Olympic gold medalist for Cuba but has fought only 11 professional bouts.
“Both guys can lead and counter very well, and they transition from one to the other and vice versa in a very smooth way,” Malignaggi observed.
“Donaire seems to bring a little more grit to the table. Donaire also seems to be the one that is more willing to bite down if times get tough,” he added. “I think both guys will have their moments, but I like Donaire by late stoppage.”
Mares, who was seen as a potential foe for Donaire back when he was in the super bantamweight division, also sees a victory for the Filipino star.
“I think at the end of the day, Nonito’s power and his ability to move and his general professional experience is going to get the best of Rigondeaux that night,” Mares said.
“I see Nonito winning by knockout. I estimate a seven-round knockout by Nonito if Rigondeaux doesn’t just run and box all night,” he added.
Most of the experts and analysts polled by RingTV also favored for Donaire.
RingTV editor Doug Fischer predicted a knockout for Donaire in the middle to the late rounds, and expects the fight to be a “high-level, tit-for-tat chess match early in the bout.”
Michael Rosenthal, editor of The RING Magazine, also sees a knockout win for Donaire.
“I believe a fairly competitive match-up in terms of skills and experience will be decided by Nonito Donaire’s power. Donaire will catch Rigondeaux in the middle rounds, which will be the beginning of the end,” Rosenthal said.
USA Today’s Mike Coppinger believes Rigondeaux can pull off the upset, however.
“It could be a matter of whose punch lands first, but all things considered, I’ll go with Rigondeaux – who is a great body puncher – to edge Donaire on points,” Coppinger said.
Igor Guryashkin of ESPN.com also predicts a victory for the Cuban, saying: “I’ve said it for two years now and have never seen anything to veer away – Guillermo Rigondeaux will either knockout Nonito Donaire or get a reasonably comfortable decision.”
Joseph Santoliquito, who writes for RingTV and CBS Sports, also picked Rigondeaux to win, saying the Cuban was “the closest thing to Floyd Mayweather, in terms of defensive skills, quickness and speed, than anyone in boxing today.”