Nonito Donaire came into his fight against Guillermo Rigondeaux as one of the hottest fighters in the world and largely expectant to dominate his opponent.
The Filipino Flash had, after all, won his last 30 fights and had an imposing 31-1 record to his name. What's more, the 2012 Fighter of the Year Award was collected and posed with by Donaire before the fight—perhaps a not-so-subtle indication of just who was the big-name star entering this bout.
However, the fight didn't exactly go to script for Donaire.
His explosive, power-hitting game was rendered completely ineffective against the discipline and control showcased by Rigondeaux. What's more, instead of looking for good opportunities to break down his opponent, Donaire started swinging wildly—exposing himself even more to the Cuban international who was quickly making a name for himself.
Donaire emerged from Radio City Music Hall with a tough loss to his name, and whilst the scoreline might suggest that the star was close to toppling his opponent, the reality was that he was comfortably beaten. Comfortably beaten and completely broken down by Rigondeaux.
The Filipino Flash admitted after the fight that he was not at his best; he even admitted to the fact that he essentially tried to mail it in against Rigondeaux.
So Donaire didn't study at all? C'mon, I can see the shoulder ailment. But you don't study who you're facing next? Thats weak #boxing— Steve Kim (@stevemaxboxing) April 14, 2013
And yet, despite all of that, Donaire emerged with his reputation, image and appeal completely intact—ready to take on the next big-name in boxing.
Rigondeaux certainly made a name for himself, but against a crowd favorite in Donaire, not even he was able to emerge as a big winner from their bout.
The biggest winner, as bizarre as it might seem, was Donaire.
Donaire could have very easily walked away from the fight with his career in tatters. After all, his streak had been broken, he was shown up for not doing his homework, and at the end of the day, he was completely and utterly beaten by Rigondeaux.
Yet despite the loss, he still walked away with his style and appeal—the market he has seemingly created for himself with his crowd-pleasing antics and power-hitting style. And losing a tough, gritty affair against a defensively-minded fighter won't change that at all.
That might seem harsh, but it's true. It's not enough to simply have talent—you must have the style and appeal that Donaire simply reeks of. You must be able to market yourself as a certain style of fighter and regardless of the loss, Donaire's style remained completely in tact as a result of that.
Welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, called the fight on the Top Rank international feed and said after the fight (per Yahoo! Sports);
People want to see action. They want to see guys just tearing into each other. The slick boxers, hit and don't be hit—they're not as much into that.
And as a result, Donaire's image and status will remain okay. Rigondeaux's will rise to some extent, but he will not attain that of Donaire—not after one win.
The Filipino Flash has options ahead of him if he wants to go up to featherweight or try and make this weight again, and as long as he avoids guys like Rigondeaux once more, he'll likely continue his winning ways and image-building process.
No loss is going to be able to take that away. Not yet, anyway.
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