The phenomenal, five-year run of Nonito Donaire ended tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York, as amateur legend Guillermo Rigondeaux scored the upset via unanimous decision, winning on scores of 114-113, 115-112, and 116-111. Bad Left Hook and SBNation.com had it 117-110 for Rigondeaux.
It was the arrival of a new pound-for-pound type contender, as the Cuban Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KO) put on a largely masterful, if often unexciting, performance over 12 rounds tonight, outboxing Donaire and making an elite-level fighter often look very ordinary.
Concerns about the chin of Rigondeaux grew quiet over the first nine rounds, largely fought at Rigondeaux's pace and preferred distance, as he used his excellent hand speed and beautiful footwork to move out of the way of Donaire's ace punch, the left hook counter.
But in the 10th round, Donaire did get a moment of serious hope. As the two tangled close together, Donaire landed a straight left hand that put Rigondeaux on the canvas, with a huge response from the pro-Donaire crowd in NYC. Rigondeaux, however, got back to his feet, settled in, and took over the remainder of the fight.
Early in the 12th round, with Donaire fighting as though he needed a knockout, Rigondeaux landed a thunderous left hand directly to Donaire's eye, clearly hurting the Filipino and putting him into a cautious defensive mode for the remainder of the fight. Donaire pawed at and attempted to cover the eye for the rest of the fight, which took him out of the round. The injury looked as if it might possibly have been a broken orbital bone.
Donaire will now be on the sidelines for a while, as he and wife Rachel are expecting their first child this summer, so the injury, even if fairly serious, likely won't cost him any time he didn't intend to take off in the first place.
Rigondeaux probably didn't win over many fans tonight with his performance, but that has never been in the cards for him. Now that he holds two world titles and is firmly planted as the world's No. 1 boxer at 122 pounds, fighters in the weight class will have to come to him if they want the biggest fight they can make. He doesn't sell tickets, and he doesn't put on Fight of the Year candidates, but he's a top-level talent with the skills to beat anyone.
For more on Donaire-Rigondeaux and other upcoming big fights, including Mayweather-Guerrero and Canelo-Trout, visit Bad Left Hook.