Nonito Donaire Likely to Fight Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux
Have you ever left a restaurant and suddenly realized that you forgot to feed the parking meter an hour earlier? As you march down the sidewalk, a deep dread sinks down your throat and into the pit of your stomach. You do your best to accept the reality that you will owe the city of San Francisco $72, so you can move on with the day with minimal malice in your heart. Whatever, charge it to the game, you say to yourself, MTA could use the money anyway. By the time the car is in sight, you've already come to peace with this travesty. Then you reach the door and... there is no ticket.
Donaire may soon face his biggest challenge yet.
That's how boxing fans feel this week.
Nonito Donaire (31-1) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0) are the two best 122-pound boxers in the world and, according to multiple media outlets, they will fight on April 13. It doesn't occur often enough in boxing -- the two best guys in a division squaring off in their primes, the fight everybody wants to see actually happening. And boxing fans can only try to accept this reality.
But this time, it's on.
ESPN first reported the news of the fight last week. And yesterday, Rigondeaux's camp and Donaire's promoter Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, confirmed to The Ring magazine that the bout is all but official. Rigondeaux has signed a contract for the fight, and Donaire is in the process of finalizing his terms of the deal.
"Everything is in the process of happening," Arum told The Ring. "When it happens, it will happen, and then, we'll announce the signing and the site."
Boxing writers named Donaire, who resides in San Leandro, 2012 Fighter of the Year, after he notched his fourth win in 11 months with a spectacular third-round knock out of Jorge Arce in December.
Rigondeaux is widely considered the top challenge to Donaire's 122-pound crown. His 11-0 record is deceptive. He defected from Cuba in 2007, at the age of 28, after winning two Olympic gold medals (2000 and 2004). His amateur record sparkles. In 2001 and 2005 he won gold at the World Amateur Championships. He's also won two golds at the boxing World Cup, another at the 2003 Pan American Games, and one more at the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games. He won seven consecutive national championships in Cuba, a country known for it's storied boxing tradition. And he hasn't lost a fight since 2003.
Since his arrival on American soil, Rigondeaux has torn through a sheet of sub-par-to-solid fighters, scoring knockouts in eight of 11 bouts. His mix of hand speed, footwork, and punching power will make him arguably the toughest opponent Donaire has faced.
Of course the same can be said of Donaire for Rigondeaux, who is yet to fight a top-flight professional. As Rigondeaux was quickly climbing the super bantamweight ladder, Donaire was rolling through the best fighters in multiple divisions, racking up titles and national recognition.
And now their paths are about to converge.