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Donaire vs Rigondeaux: Picks and predictions from the BLH staff

Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux meet for the WBO and WBA super bantamweight titles tomorrow on HBO. Who comes away with the belts and the recognition of being the world's best 122-pound fighter?

Chris Farina/Top Rank

Ryan Bivins

I really don't have a strong opinion about who's going to win this fight, but as I see it, it comes down to what Rigondeaux won't do versus what Donaire can't do. What I am confident about is the activity rate of the fight depending on who wins. At a slow pace, Rigondeaux wins. That's his kind of fight and he's just the superior technician. Rigondeaux does not like to throw a lot of punches. He's all about power counter shots. He truly makes what he throws count, so much so that if he's not in a position to land an effective punch he won't throw at all. And that will likely be his undoing. Donaire is a very fast, athletic guy with great reflexes. Rigondeaux can't just wait around to counter and not expect to get bombarded with more punches than he can defend. But I also think he's aware of that and may have prepared to be more aggressive. I just doubt it's going to work out. He's just too stuck in his ways to become a different animal for a fight on this level. He could flip the switch for a guy like Willie Casey, but Donaire does not remotely compare. Donaire by decision.

Scott Christ

I have not always been overly impressed by Guillermo Rigondeaux, but I've had the lingering feeling that there's more to him -- when he gets an actually challenge, he'll come alive, show greater hunger than he has thus far, and really turn it on, showcasing his excellent talent. This is the sort of matchup we always hoped to see from Yuriorkis Gamboa, but Rigondeaux is taking it in just his 12th pro fight, and with due respect to some good opponents that Gamboa has beaten, he's never faced someone on the level of a Nonito Donaire.

Donaire is very good, but I think he falls short of great -- and I think this is the fight where we see that happen. Omar Narvaez didn't come close to Donaire, and didn't trouble the Filipino star in the sense that he won many rounds or anything like that, but there were some things he did that showed how to expose some of Donaire's flaws. Nonito, like Rigondeaux, likes to counter. That's where he's at his best. Rigondeaux is the same, but we've seen Rigondeaux tear into guys here and there, too. He'll have to do that, and I think he's going to take the risk and do it. Donaire could definitely win this fight, but I'm going with the Cuban. This was about a 51-49 sort of pick for me. No outcome will surprise me. Rigondeaux by split decision.

Tom Craze

It's a mark of a both a good match-up, and a potentially frustrating kind of contest, that a fight like Donaire-Rigondeaux is as hard to call as it is. This is, for the first time since Montiel, a fight that's generally being looked at as a challenge, an event where the eventual outcome doesn't already seem entirely inevitable.

How it goes is perhaps largely dependent on whether either will really want to dance. If neither leads, look for Donaire to win the fight on minimal activity, scoring with the jab but never fully committing to combinations in front of a counter-puncher as skilled as Rigondeaux. If either decides to take the initiative, well, then we've got a real fight on our hands. It looks like a distance fight to me. Donaire by scrappy, possibly contentious, decision, with 115-113-type tallies on the cards.

Kory Kitchen

I have gone back and forth on this one. Each man has great speed and fight-ending power. However, I keep coming back to the fact that Donaire has a tremendous advantage in professional experience. Amateur experience is great for developing skills and gaining the tools necessary to have a successful pro boxing career. But it only takes you so far, and I get the sense Rigondeaux is being a little overrated based on what he did before he was receiving a paycheck for his trade. Donaire has been in with guys like Fernano Montiel, Toshiako Nishioka, and Vic Darchinyan which is way more than what Rigondeaux has seen. Even contenders like Jeffrey Mathebula and Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. are better than Rigondeaux's sparse competition at this stage. Donaire tends to perform his best for his biggest fights. We cannot say the same for Rigondeaux, a 32 year-old who only has 11 pro fights.

I think the fight will begin tediously. Each man respects the other's speed and pop which could result in some very tight, tit-for-tat rounds. As the rounds wear on, Donaire will try to take a bit more of the lead and look to setup power punches with feints. My guess is that Rigondeaux will bite eventually, and get hurt. Donaire takes over by the later rounds, outboxing Rigondeaux from a distance and outworking him on the inside. Rigondeaux will be puzzled when he faces a man with comparable skills and talent. Donaire by late stoppage.

Dave Oakes

This is definitely one for the purists. The fight will be technically and tactically absorbing rather than a thrill a minute battle. Whilst both prefer to counter-punch, I feel Donaire's best chance is to apply educated pressure. Rigondeux doesn't make too many mistakes, so it'll be up to Donaire to force him to make them. If it becomes a stand-off, it will suit Rigondeux's more than it will Donaire.

I can see Rigondeaux's speed and footwork causing Donaire problems early before Donaire starts to find the range in the mid rounds. The Cuban will find it increasingly difficult to keep away from Donaire as the fight wears on, and with this in mind, I feel Donaire will start to land heavy blows in the late rounds, blows which will rock Rigondeaux to his boots and will force the referee's intervention. Donaire by late stoppage.

Final Tally: Nonito Donaire 4, Guillermo Rigondeaux 1.

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