By SEAN PATRICK QUIGLEY
Jabs and egos flew alike at Mendez Gym in Manhattan Tuesday as Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) ,and Guillermo “El Chacaì” Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs), held a workout to prep for the World Title Unification Fight on Saturday at Radio City Music Hall.
The upcoming bout on New York’s biggest stage will determine who tops the division, and both combatants are equally confident that they will take home the title.
‘I didn’t say he wasn’t a dangerous opponent,” said Donaire,” but this is a big opportunity for him and with opportunity comes risk, and I’m the biggest risk out there.”
Donaire belittled his opponent’s experience, saying that all the practice he could have gotten in the amateur league and the Olympics could not prepare him for the professional competition he was soon to face.
When Rigondeaux arrived at the gym he seemed not fazed by his rival’s comments. The 2012 fighter of the year and two-time Olympic gold medalist said through a translator: “Let him be confident, Iím gonna take care of him on fight night. I’m 100 percent; I’m ready to go; he ís the one who should be scared. As an amateur, what did he do? Did he win any championships?”
One thing both fighters could agree on was the honor they felt participating in the second boxing match ever held at the 82-year-old showplace. The other match was a light heavyweight championship contest between Roy Jones and David Telesco in 2000.
Both fighters consider Jones a hero of and professed excitement about opening Radio City Music Hall to boxing once again. “It’s a big stage, and Iím proud to be here,” said Rigondeaux.
The fighters went about their workouts, sparring with trainers, hitting the speed and heavy bags, jump roping and pumping up the tumultuous gym. Donaire bounced around the ring in a flat-rimmed hat bearing his moniker, impersonating the styles of famous boxers from Tyson to Ali, and screaming while punching at the cameras: “Now you see me, now you don’t. Where’d I go?”
Rigondeaux, showed off his acrobatic skills, flipping over the ropes while baring his gold-capped teeth to the crowd.
The WBO (Donaire) and WBA (Rigondeaux) champions both affirmed that they have what it takes to take each other down. With Rigondeaux considered one of the finest Olympic athletes of our time, and Donaire being groomed to become the next Manny Pacquiao. The fight is tagged as a boxing classic, perfect for a venue such as Radio City Music Hall.
The fight will be aired live on HBO World Championship Boxing on Saturday at 11 p.m.
Photo by Sean Patrick Quigley: Guillermo Rigondeaux laces up