WITH Brian Viloria losing his two titles last Saturday and Manny Pacquiao getting knocked out late last year, the Philippines turns to Nonito Donaire Jr. to boost the country’s stature in boxing when he clashes with the unbeaten Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba this Saturday (Sunday morning in Manila) in New York City.
Donaire, adjudged the 2012 Fighter of the Year by all media entities, will try to add the World Boxing Association junior bantamweight title of Rigondeaux to his WBO crown in the title unification bout set at Radio City Music Hall.
Although favored as the more experienced and stronger fighter, Donaire (31-1-0 with 20 knockouts) is under pressure to perform well against the Cuban champ (11-0-0, eight KOs) following Viloria’s dethronement as WBO and WBA flyweight king by Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico three nights ago in Macau.
Viloria’s fall came just a few months after Pacquiao, fighting Mexican arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time, was knocked out late in the sixth round in Las Vegas.
A week before the fight, Donaire and Rigondeaux vowed to knock each other out as they traded barbs again over the Internet.
Donaire, in an interview with premier website boxingscene.com said Rigondeaux is not as experienced as his previous victims Fernando Montiel and Jorge Arce. He knocked out Montiel in the second round in 2011 and put away the former four-division champion Arce in three rounds last December.
Rigondeaux shot back, saying he would shut Donaire’s mouth on fight night with the plan he has devised with his coach Pedro Diaz, the man who steered him to two Olympic gold medals.
“This is a golden opportunity for my career,” Rigondeaux was quoted as saying in the boxingscene report. “I will be facing the best at 122 (Donaire). But if he thinks I’m easy, then I’m going to win.
“I’m going to shut that stubborn Filipino’s mouth and I will unify the titles.”
For his fight against the shorter Rigondeaux, Donaire reportedly sparred with shorter southpaws like Erick de Leon and Vic Pasillas.