Convicted Artist Magazine

May 25th
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rigondeaux-vs-donaireWow!  I really blew that call with Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Nonito Donaire.  I was so sure that Rigo's weak opposition, and potential weaknesses shown against that opposition would come back to haunt him the first time Donaire connected with something solid.  Unfortunately for Donaire, that first time came in round 10.  Rigo showed a better chin, more determination, and willingess to be more careful when he had a good opponent in front of him.  All of his bad habits seemingly melted away with his new concentration.  However, he did have a little bit of help here.
Donaire was ripe for a fall the minute people were anointing him as the second coming.  A lot of pressure to follow up a banner year, a "fighter of the year" type of year.  Many a fighter followed up this honor by being beaten, and Donaire now joins that list.  He turned into a one-dimensional fighter when confronted with a higher challenge, the exact opposite of Rigo's reaction to the big stage.  Granted, neither fighter was crazy about engaging, for fear of what was going to come back, but Rigo controlled the pace, and the tempo.  Nothing happened unless he started (and usually ended) the exchange.
Donaire won more rounds than the biased HBO call would have you believe, but he won them because Rigo took them off, not for anything special he was doing.  Donaire was even able to fight on fairly even terms for the last few rounds, but it took him too long to figure out that he had to throw combinations, and be willing to miss badly within them.  Donaire was also cheated out of quality time with his trainer.  Robert Garcia should take note of Freddie Roach's recent downfall, and not stretch himself too thin.  Not only was he not there to help his charge prepare, but he seemingly had no real answers for Nonito.
Telling him to throw combinations was not enough.  He had to encourage Donaire to be first more often, and more importantly, be last... to control distance, and make sure the fight is fought at his reach.  Also to use the jab even if it was not landing.  The jab was virtually non-existent for Donaire, and you cannot beat a slick, quick fighter without one... period.  Unless, that is, you bank on a big shot, and that is what Donaire did all night.  However, on the rare occasion he landed flush, he was met by a counter, not a submission.  He is planning on having surgery, and moving up to 126.  This will give him a chance to rest, and be with his new son.  Perhaps this will serve as a wake-up call to make changes, as well.  For Rigo, congrats on a great win.  He now stands alone atop 122.

Chris Strait

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