NEW YORK — RingTV.com caught up to junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux on Sunday afternoon in the lobby of the Affinia Hotel, the day after Rigondeaux’s HBO-televised unanimous decision over Nonito Donaire at Radio City Music Hall.
In victory over Donaire (32-1, 20 knockouts), Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) earned the RING, WBA and WBO championships.
A southpaw, two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist, Rigondeaux won, 114-113, 115-112, 116-111 on the judges’ cards of John Stewart, Tom Schreck and Julie Lederman, respectively. RingTV.com had it for Rigondeaux, 117-110.
Following an unimpressive and dull decison over Panama’s Ricardo Cordoba in November of 2010, Rigondeaux came back with consecutive stoppages over Willie Casey, Rico Ramos and Teon Kennedy before securing September’s unanimous-decision victory over Robert Marroquin.
Although there are many critics of Rigondeaux’s style, his effort has been applauded by others such as trainer Kevin Cunningham, WBA welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi, RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward and WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley, the last two after having watched the fight from ringside.
Rigondeaux defected from Cuba in 2009, leaving behind his wife and two children. In the Q&A below, he shared his thoughts on his performance, which was inspired, in part, by a call from his son, Guillermo Rigondeaux Jr.
Osvaldo Nordelo acted as translator.
RingtV.com: Can you tell me the story about your son, Gullermo Jr., calling you before the fight?
Guillermo Rigondeaux: Yes, my son is 11 years old. I always have my son in my heart. Even with him being in Cuba, he is still in my heart everywhere that I go. To receive that call before the fight, it meant everything.
RingTV.com: Your thoughts on your performance?
GR: I am very satisfied with all that happened, but you remember what I told you the last time we talked before the fight? The first time that I spoke to you, you were thinking that Nonito was going to win. I did my job, just like I told you I would.
RingTV.com: Do you wonder, like Bradley and Ward did, whether or not last night’s crowd appreciated what it saw?
GR: I have to make a living, you know, for my family. There are going to be days when I go after it, and then there are going to be days where you box.
I had everything under control throughout the fight. The fans’ boos, that’s not because of what I did wrong. I believe that the boos were for Nonito.
RingTV.com: Given that you felt you were in complete control, was there ever a point in the fight where you considered going toe-to-toe and attempting to go for the knockout?
GR: I tried to do my job. You don’t look for the knockout. The knockout has to come to you. If it is there, then you take it.
In the 12th round, for example, I tried for it, but I couldn’t get it. Nonito was able to block some of the shots and avoid getting knocked out.
RingTV.com: Can you describe what happened with the knockdown in the 10th round?
GR: We were coming out of a clinch and he caught me with a good left hand. That happens. That was a good shot. I recovered fast, and at the end of the round and in the next round, I was much better off.
RingTV.com: Was it the left cross that caused the damage to Donaire’s right eye in the last round?
GR: Yes, it was in round 12 where I threw that punch right to his eye, and that was the shot. I thought that I was close. I thought that I could get the knockout in the 12th round.
But Nonito came up with some good defense at that point, and I could not finish him. As far as my next fight, I will fight anyone. No matter who they put in front of me, it will be no problem.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com