Nonito Donaire's excellence against top-notch competition deserves high praise.
After being awarded the 2012 Fighter of the Year by several publications (Ring Magazine and Boxing Scene to name two), Donaire would have to be considered the best fighter in the world if he beats Guillermo Rigondeaux on Saturday night.
Donaire is 31-0 with 20 KO. He hasn't lost since 2001 in his second professional fight.
Despite Riognodeaux's modest professional record (11-0, 8 KO) he represents the biggest challenge Donaire will have faced in his career.
El Chacal's combination of speed, quickness, fundamentals, amateur pedigree and defensive style will test Donaire in ways he's never been tested. As much as I love Donaire, I predict Rigondeaux will win a decision over him.
That same seed of doubt is present in the minds of others that fashion themselves as boxing aficionados.
Christopher Wirsing of FightSaga.com favors Rigondeaux in this bout. He said:
If it goes twelve rounds and there is not a lot of activity, Donaire may win a decision. But I think his style will play right into the hands of Rigondeaux so I am leaning towards Rigondeaux in this one.
Of the 12 writers from BoxingScene.com that offered predictions, four also believe Rigondeaux will win. Even though Donaire fights the best fighters available to him, his amazing blend of speed and power genuinely makes him the favorite in most of his fights.
The fact that a good number of writers are picking Rigondeaux is an acknowledgment of the Cuban's skill.
This is why a Donaire win would be so impressive. It is also why I believe a victory should make him the pound-for-pound champion.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is undefeated and one of the greatest of all-time. But the pound-for-pound championship is about recent fights and Mayweather hasn't fought since May 2012.
Since Mayweather's last fight, Donaire has defeated Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce. All three of those men were current or former champions when Donaire defeated them.
If Donaire defeats Rigondeaux in the super bantamweight unification bout, that would be four-straight current or former champions Donaire has defeated during Mayweather's inactivity.
Obviously, Mayweather is set to battle Robert Guerrero on May 4. An impressive win over Guerrero would likely solidify Mayweather's status as the world's best.
But in the meantime, if Donaire defeats Rigondeaux, there won't be a better fighter in any weight class in my eyes.
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