Ward: Fight 'just didn't go (Donaire's) way'
Guillermo Rigondeaux (right) lands a punch on Nonito Donaire Saturday night in New York City. (AP)
Nonito Donaire’s 12-year win streak came to an end in New York City as Guillermo Rigondeaux outdueled him for the WBO, WBA, and Ring Magazine world junior featherweight titles at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday night.
Rigondeaux used his handspeed—but especially his feet—to fluster Donaire, who constantly sought an opening to land the knockout blow over the 12-round distance. Though Donaire would send Rigondeaux to the canvas via an overhand left in the 10th round, the San Leandro resident found himself stalking his Cuban foe in vain.
“I got up right away,” Rigondeaux said of the knockdown. “He didn’t hurt me.”
Meanwhile, Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs), who now lives in Miami, was able to stay out of Donaire’s striking distance, clocking the East Bay star with right jabs and swift left crosses, then subsequently maneuvering his way out of trouble repeatedly. In the 12th round, Donaire’s right eye closed shut, and the injury prevented him from one final push.
“The people that know boxing saw that it was a very good boxing fight,” Rigondeaux said. “I made him look the way he looked, which was bad, and I looked great…He’s an excellent fighter, with a great punch, but with one shot, you just can’t win a fight.”
Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) was hungry to erase the memory of his first fight in the Big Apple, a disappointing points victory over Omar Narvaez in 2011 that was devoid of the excitement “The Filipino Flash” has delivered throughout his career. Perhaps it was his undoing, as he alluded to in the postfight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman.
“I just want to apologize to you because I wanted to deliver…the last two rounds, I got stupid,” Donaire said. “I didn’t really feel his power until that last round. I got too carried away with taking him out. I have much respect for Rigondeaux for the beautiful boxing he gave me, and now we have to go back to the drawing board.”
Scores were 114-113, 115-112, and 116-111 for Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who can now claim his most pivotal win as a pro.
“We thought we could get him,” Donaire said. “I didn’t do my job to throw my jab and go to the left side. I wanted to take him out. I fell for that success, that power, that vulnerability he had, but there’s no excuses. He beat me tonight. I thought it was a very close fight, but we have to go back to the drawing board and be better. We gave it all we got.”
Donaire informed CSNBayArea.com before the fight that it has been tougher than ever to make the 122-pound limit, meaning a move up to the featherweight division looms next. However, any such decision will have to wait until the fall, because his wife Rachel is expected to give birth to their first child in July.
“I want to go up in the division now because I’m struggling to make this weight,” said Donaire, who plans to name the baby boy Jarel. “But I would like to rematch him. I didn’t study him. But I never studied the fight, and I should’ve.”
Toka Kahn Clary (5-0, 4 KOs) of Providence, R.I., overpowered Puerto Rico’s Gadiel Andaluz (4-5-1, 2 KOs), scoring three knockdowns in the opening frame to earn the technical knockout victory. Kahn Clary thrashed Andaluz with a variety of punches, from short left hands to looping right hands that found their desired destination with ease. Referee Harvey Dock waved off the fight at 1:32.
Local fan favorite Sean Monaghan (18-0, 11 KOs) of Long Beach, N.Y., crushed Kansas City’s Rex Stanley (11-5, 5 KOs) in round one of a light heavyweight clash with a well-placed right hand to the temple. Though Stanley would get up, his equilibrium was clearly off-kilter, and by the 1:51 mark, Dock had seen enough.
Felix Verdejo, a 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian, continued his torrid start to his pro career with an impressive first-round technical knockout of fellow junior lightweight Steve Gutierrez (4-3-1, 2 KOs). Verdejo (4-0, 3 KOs) commenced the fireworks with a laser right hand that had Gutierrez sprawling on the floor. Although Gutierrez would regain his footing, Verdejo was ruthless in his attack, ending matters with a left uppercut and another straight right hand. Official time was 1:51.
Philadelphia super middleweight Jesse Hart (7-0, 5 KOs) unloaded a series of power shots on Marlon Farr (2-3) of Zephyrhills, Fla., en route to a third-round stoppage. In the final frame, Hart sent his foe to the canvas twice on the strength of a vicious right hand, with the second knockdown sending Farr through the ropes. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stopped the bout at 1:33.
Unbeaten prospect Glen Tapia (18-0, 10 KOs) kept his flawless record intact, pounding out an eight-round unanimous decision over Puerto Rican Joseph de los Santos (13-12-3, 6 KOs). Tapia, from Passaic, N.J., consistently found a home for his left hook, but the rugged de los Santos had his moments in a fight that was closer than indicated by the trio of 80-72 scorecards.
In an entertaining junior middleweight slugfest, Tyler Canning (2-1) of Lander, Wy., captured a split decision over New York City’s Dario Soccia (2-1). Any semblance of defense flew out the window as both combatants traded leather nonstop over four rounds, much to the delight of the crowd. A pair of 39-37 verdicts in favor of Canning overruled a 39-37 score for Soccia.
Montreal welterweight Mikael Zewski (19-0, 15 KOs) made quick work of Daniel Sostre (11-9-1, 4 KOs) as he knocked out the New York City native in the second round. Zewski initially floored Sostre with a right hand, and as the New York native rose to his feet with his back against the ropes, the Canadian prospect finished him off with a vicious flurry. Official time was 0:49.
Detroit lightweight Erick DeLeon (3-0, 1 KO), who was one of Donaire’s main sparring partners leading up to Saturday, gave Phoenix’s Diamond Baier (2-5-1) fits over four rounds. Strafing his foe from various angles out of the southpaw stance, DeLeon won a unanimous decision by a margin of 40-34 on one card and 40-36 on the other two.