Middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin could soon defend his WBO title against promotional stablemate Danny Jacobs.
Donaire-Rigondeaux mean mug during staredown
Nonito Donaire on his final press conference staredown with Guillermo Rigondeaux: "Today was my moral victory in terms of me being able to face off against him. I know that he felt my energy and that's why maybe he looked away from me."
NEW YORK -- Following Wednesday's final press conference for Saturday night's HBO-televised clash at Radio City Music Hall, RING, IBF and WBO junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire and WBA counterpart Guillermo Rigondeaux engaged in a brief, yet extremely intense staredown as the media in attendance took it in at The Theater lobby of Madison Square Garden.
As Donaire (31-1, 20 knockouts) and Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs) stood face-to-face mean-mugging one another, their respective trainers -- Donaire's Robert Garcia and Rigondeaux's Pedro Diaz -- stood behind each of them.
When the smiling Donaire broke his glare and turned away, "The Filipino Flash" told Garcia that he saw fear in Rigondeaux's eyes.
"I kept looking, and then, he looked away, and the only reason that I looked away is because he broke his stare at me. Then he started to look at my nose and at my mouth, so I said, 'Okay, I'm good.' So today was my moral victory in terms of me being able to face off against him. I know that he felt my energy and that's why maybe he looked away from me, because I was starting to get heated and that's always me," said Donaire.
Garcia agreed, saying that Diaz had coached Rigondeaux to maintain his stance.
"When they did the staredown, Nonito was doing it by himself. So Nonito chose to do it on and he chose not to turn. So when you have the fighter in front of you being guided by the trainer behind him, then that don't mean he's the one who wants to do it. It means that it was the trainer who was the one that wanted to be in the staredown. I speak Spanish, and I was hearing everything that he was telling Guillermo. He was telling Guillermo, 'Don't turn, don't turn. Don't turn until he turns away first,'" said Garcia.
RIGONDEAUX ASKS 'WAS NONITO SCARED?'
Following an unimpressive and dull decison over Panama's Ricardo Cordoba in November of 2010, Rigondeaux responded with consecutive stoppages over Willie Casey, Rico Ramos and Teon Kennedy in the first, sixth and fifth rounds, respectively, before securing September's unanimous decision victory over Robert Marroquin.
Rigondeaux believes that it was his performanes, and not Donaire's bravery, that earned him the chance to unify the belts.
"When I fought Cordoba, I jumped from four to 12 rounds. But every opponent is different. I'm just out to do the jobs and I got the knockouts. I think that put fear into Nonito, because when you're the champion, you're supposed to fight the best and to fight anybody. Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, they're champions and they fight anyone. Was Nonito scared? You tell me. He was so worried that he couldn't sleep," said Rigonddeaux.
DIAZ HAS SPLIT VICTORIES WITH MIGUEL COTTO IN NEW YORK
Diaz debuted as a professional trainer with three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto, guiding the Puerto Rican star to a 10th-round knockout of Antonio Margarito in December of 2011 that avenged an 11th-round stoppage loss which was the first of Cotto's career in July of 2008.
In his second fight with Diaz, Cotto lost by unanimous-decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr., who added Cotto's WBA junior middleweight belt to his WBC welterweight title in Las Vegas in May of 2012.
Diaz returned to The Garden for his third fight with Cotto, December's unanimous decision loss to WBA junior middleweight beltholder Austin Trout.
Diaz became Cotto's trainer after replacing Emanuel "Manny" Steward, who died in October of last year at the age of 68, after Cotto had won two fights under the Hall of Famer, ninth- and 12th-round stoppage victories over Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga in June of 2010 and March of 2011, respectively.
On Saturday night, Diaz, who served as an amateur coach for Rigondeaux, will try to improve to 2-1 in New York with a victory over Donaire.
"With Cotto, with Rigondeaux, and with the rest of the boxers that I work with, I always try to do the best job. Once they are inside of the ring, it's up to the boxer to do what they have to do,"said Diaz, a PhD in Pedagogical Sciences and an ex-university professor in sports science.
"I always come and try to do my job and make the fighters as fit as possible and in the best shape possible. I try to look up to Nacho Beristain, Freddie Roach and Robert Garcia, so even though I'm young in the sport, I consider myself an apprentice. I know that I'm always going to learn from them. So this fight is a blessing, and Rigondeaux is going to unify the belts."
GARCIA CAN GET EVEN WITH DIAZ, ALTHOUGH HE DOESN'T SEE THE FIGHT THAT WAY
Donaire has insisted that he remains focused despite the fact that his wife, Rachel, is pregnant with their first child, a son who will be named Jarel, and who is due to be born in July.
On Thursday in New York, Donaire will be honored as The Boxing Writers' Association of America's Fighter of The Year, and Garcia, as Trainer of The Year.
On Saturday, however, Donaire and Garcia will have a fight on their hands, with Garcia having lost his matchup to Diaz when he worked the corner of Margarito against Cotto.
"Pedro is a great trainer, and I don't look at what he did in his last fight with Cotto or whatever, but he could go back and say, 'We beat Cotto when Cotto fought Margarito, so I can beat him again.' But they're just totally different fights, and I don't see it like that, like he beat me once, so I've got to beat him this time. I'm not going after Guillermo because now we've got to get even with him because he beat me with Margarito," said Garcia.
BOB ARUM EMBRACES RANDOM DRUG TESTING
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum appears to be have warmed up to random drug testing, this, after having long insisted that the testing procedures be limited to those of the respective state commissions.
Donaire and Rigondeaux have contractually agreed to submit to random testing for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).
From here on out, Arum said that Top Rank will pay for the VADA testing for his major main events.
"The fighters have instituted the testing themselves, including [Tim] Bradley and [Ruslan] Provodnikov, Donaire and Rigondeaux. And they've all have had high praise for the way that VADA has conducted it. Well, if the fighters don't feel that it's intrusive and that it doesn't interfere with their training, then it's a great thing to have," said Arum, specifying that he meant main event or pay per view main bouts.
"So that's what I have meant by having it prove itself. We now know that they're testing for performance enhancing drugs and not nonsense, and that's good, because nobody wants these athletes to come in with an unfair competitive advantage. We will go to the fighters and suggest that this be done, recommend that it be done, and we'll tell them that if they agree, then we'll pay for it."
Arum's message sounded like good news to Donaire, who has committed to year-round drug testing by VADA.
"I think that as long as nothing goes wrong, the promoters are going to be happy about it. So they support it as long as nothing goes wrong. If Bob says that he will pay for the testing, then that would be good. I'm hoping that he stays true to his word, because it helps out the world of boxing," said Donaire.
ARUM STANDS TALL THROUGHOUT PRESS CONFERENCE
Even on the heels of last week's trip to China for last Saturday's HBO2-televised card from the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau, Arum showed little effects of jet lag or fatigue.
Throughout Wednesday's press conference, the 81-year-old promoter was never off his feet and never sat down, even as many of his organization members say they can scarcely keep up with him.
"I'm demonstrating to people that age is just a number. Like Big George Foreman says to me, 'age is just a number.' If you buy in to how old you are, and then, therefore, you can't do certain things, then you can't do them. So if I say, 'Hey, I'm 81, and I can't do this anymore,' or, 'I can't do that anymore,' then I won't be able to do it anymore. But if I say, 'Hey, I'm 81, but so what, I can still do it,' then I'll still do it," said Arum.
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org