night, at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux won a Unanimous Decision and the WBA and WBO Super Bantamweight titles from Nonito Donaire. Rigondeaux, undefeated at 12-0 and owner of two Olympic Gold Medals and a massive amateur record put on a virtuoso performance over Donaire, who had cemented his spot in the top 5 pound for pound fighters in the world with a torrid 2012 that saw him go 4-0 and win many ‘Fighter of the Year’ awards.
Boxing’s biggest names all seem to be in matches with huge lines at the books to start of 2013. Sergio Martinez at -800 over Martin Murray, Floyd Mayweather Jor at -800 over Robert Guerrero, Adrien Broner at -1500 over Paulie Mailgnaggi, Amir Khan at -1000 or more over whoever he is fighting, and Wladimir Klitschko at -5000 over whoever the heck he is fighting. There are others. Austin Trout (+170) versus Saul Alvarez (-200) has at least closed the gap a little and appears to be competitive, but there are a lot more squashes on the plate than even bouts.
Donaire was one of these squashes. Few people gave Rigondeaux a chance against the Philippino star, as he had only been a professional since 2009 and Donaire had been in the top 5 pound for pound in the world for about that long. Rigondeaux made Donaire look inept at times, something that had not happened before. The fight will leave Rigondeaux in the top 10 pound for pound, meaning the days of betting him as an underdog are gone.
I’m going to bet strictly huge underdogs for the next six months in boxing.
Mayweather is fighting under more pressure and expectations than ever at 35 years old. It is unlikely his machine would pick incorrectly in the first fight of a mega deal, and Guerrero would seem to be tailor made style wise. Guerrero has loads of heart and guts however, and Guerrero will be dangerous if Floyd is not careful.
British Heavyweight Tyson Fury (-800) comes to America for the first time to take on veteran Steve Cunningham. A wide swath of the boxing public are not sold on Fury, who at 20-0 is thought to have a very cushioned record, but he has a rabid audience that will bet him. Cunningham is a pretty solid Cruiserwieght, and he has been in with some tough heavyweights. If Fury is not for real, Cunningham could be experienced enough to expose him.
Argentinian phenom Sergio Martinez returns for a match in his home country of Argentina against Martin Murray. Martinez has been spectacular the last few years, fighting flawlessly round after round. Until his last round. After battering and thoroughly outpointing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Martinez was hurt in the last round and had to hang on to survive. At 38 years old, father time is likely coming first for Martinez among the elite fighters (well, who knows how long he will keep skipping B Hop).
Can Julio Diaz test Amir Khan’s glass head? Khan is favored at -1200 and is fighting at home as he desperately tries to get his career back on track. If Diaz can stay with Khan boxing and get the match to the later rounds, he may gain the confidence he needs to pull this out. Diaz has won 75 percent of his fights by KO, so he has to feel if he hits Khan his chances are good.
Rigondeaux scored a big upset, though many of those in the know felt the skill difference with Donaire was not that big. For the first time in many years, the top 5 pound for pound list will be without at least 1 Philippino. Would you have bet that?