The sweet science never lacks true excitement, but there’s no denying the shortage of marquee matchups in recent months.
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather will probably never face off in the ring, but the boxing world has an opportunity to witness an April 13 fight that could prove to be even more exciting.
Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux are slated for a massively appealing HBO-televised bout on Saturday from Radio City Music Hall. The budding superstars are two of the most electrifying fighters on the planet, and each will have a lot to prove when they square off.
Donaire (31-1) is the most complete boxer at the Super Bantamweight division, mixing the technical skills and knockout power to hang with anyone at 122 pounds. He has won 62.5 percent of his fights by knockout, including a December drubbing of Jorge Arce that ended with a third-round knockout blow.
After winning two titles in 2012 and Fighter of the Year honors, Donaire is an unquestioned star with the potential to fill the void that will likely soon be left by his fellow Filipino superstar. One of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, finding a matchup worth watching for Donaire probably wasn’t an easy task.
It happened, though, and boxing fans should be incredibly happy.
The 32-year-old Rigondeaux (11-0) hasn’t earned the same accolades as Donaire at the professional level, but his exploits as an amateur fighter were extremely impressive. The Cuban earned two gold medals in the Summer Olympics (2000, 2004) and continues to dominate at 122 pounds with some of the most crisp technique in the sport.
With a perfect blend of agility, quickness, power and technique, there isn’t a better fighter to pair with Donaire in a prime-time bout. The only problem will be predicting a winner.
Both fighters have the well-rounded skill set to present few advantages for their opponent. Even with the knockout power (and stunning left hook) to end a fight in the early rounds, neither has shown enough weakness to be considered an underdog in this fight, and there’s a good chance it goes the distance with both fighters still standing.
This bout is exactly what boxing needs. For the sport to continue to thrive, new faces have to emerge to replace aging stars like Pacquiao and Mayweather. It also helps that those faces are willing to put their records and reputations on the line to give fans what they want to see.
An early candidate for Fight of the Year, this showdown will certainly be one to watch.