MANILA, Philippines – Undefeated American boxers Timothy Bradley Jr. and Andre Ward count themselves as friends of Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, but they could not help but be impressed by the performance of Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Both Bradley and Ward were at ringside when Rigondeaux defeated Donaire in their super bantamweigh title unification bout last weekend in New York, with Bradley doing commentary for HBO.
Bradley and Ward both came away impressed by the slick, tactical performance of Rigondeaux, who was fighting as a professional for only the 12th time in his career.
“With Rigondeaux, it was footwork. Footwork, footwork, footwork,” Bradley said in an interview with RingTV. “Footwork and the ability to get in and move in and out. When he wanted to, Rigondeaux would just close the distance.”
What impressed Bradley the most was Rigondeaux’s ability to read Donaire’s punches, even when “The Filipino Flash” started becoming more active.
“Every time he (Donaire) would load up with that right hand, he would load up, and Rigondeaux is too smart for that. He would load up, and Rigondeaux would see it coming,” he said.
Bradley said Rigondeaux’s extensive history as an amateur fighter, as well as his experience in the Olympics, boosted him during the bout.
“It just seemed like Rigondeaux, having 400 amateur fights and coming out of the Olympics and all of that, that this is nothing to him,” Bradley said. “It was just another fight for him.”
“He’s just poised, man. He’s just relaxed. He was just relaxed. And when you have a fighter like that, who is relaxed, poised and seasoned, and who knows the ins and outs of the ring, what are you going to do?” he added.
Ward, a good friend of Donaire’s who also fights out of the Bay Area, was more reserved in his praise but also commended the Cuban boxer.
“Rigondeaux is a great boxer, he’s a sharp-shooter, and this is the best I’ve ever seen him look,” Ward told RingTV. “And that’s the mark of a guy that could be great one day and of a guy who can rise to the occasion.”
“Rigondeaux... took shots that nobody thought he could take, and then he responded,” he added.
Ward believes that if Donaire had let his hands go earlier, he could have landed a knockout punch.
“If he had boxed Rigo a little bit more, then mixed up his shots, some hard, some soft, I think that Rigo may have run into one,” Ward said.
“But you’ve got to take your hat off to Rigondeaux, man. No sour grapes. The guy won,” he added.