I read a post on The Ring’s site titled, "Donaire to Rigondeaux, Mares: ‘I will get to you after Mathebula’" by Doug Fischer, where Nonito Donaire discussed his plans to face Guillermo Rigondeaux or Abner Mares next. I want to state first, that Donaire is in a very comfortable position. There are a bunch of fighters between bantamweight and junior featherweight he can choose from that would make exciting, or at least competitive fights. Still, given that Rigondeaux is being mentioned as a possible opponent for Donaire’s next fight, I have to question whether it’s best for Rigondeaux this early in his career.
Donaire is one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world, and Rigondeaux has proven himself as a top junior featherweight, so on paper the fight makes sense. But I have to question whether he’s ready. In his seventh fight, he was placed in the ring with Ricardo Cordoba. Cordoba is himself an accomplished fighter who owns a win over Celestino Caballero. There’s no doubt Rigondeaux was the more talented fighter, but as the fight went on, Cordoba gained ground an won a good share of the rounds. Rigondeaux escaped with a split decision, but it was clear that he wasn’t ready for that level of competition, regardless of how many amateur fights he had. Considering what a setback a loss can be for a top fighter in this era of boxing, who knows how a loss against Cordoba would’ve affected his career.
Rigondeaux has had only ten fights in his professional career thus far, so there’s no need to fight the best fighter in the weight class just yet. Matches against Wilfredo Vasquez Jr., Jorge Arce, or Fernando Montiel would be great right now. It’s a deep division, so taking on top contenders over the next year to year and a half would help him prepare, and grow into the most complete fighter he can be.
The point is, we know Rigondeaux is an amazing talent, but if he’s not battle tested as a professional, he may not be able to make the best use of his abilities when the pressure mounts (as it will in big fights). We don’t know if he’s prepared for Donaire, and we should know before they make that fight. Besides, building him up against top competition can only make a fight with Donaire more lucrative.
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