Ring Magazine junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire and fellow titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux are set to kick off their 2013 boxing campaigns by finally facing each other in New York.
Top Rank Boxing CEO Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, broke the news last week. A press conference will be held this Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill in New York’s Times Square to officially announce the April 13 clash.
The bout will be held at Radio City Music Hall and televised on HBO’s World Championship Boxing.
Donaire vs. Riogndeaux will be the first bout to be held at Radio City Music Hall since Roy Jones Jr. retained his WBC, WBA and IBF light heavyweight titles with a unanimous decision win over David Telesco on January 15, 2000.
San Leandro native Donaire (31-1, 20 KO) earned fighter of the year honors from various sports outlets including ESPN and Yahoo! Sports for his impressive 2012 campaign, which saw him win two 122 lb. titles with four emphatic victories.
Donaire knocked Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. down in the ninth round en route to a split decision victory to earn the vacant WBO title in February. He then unified the WBO and IBF titles with a unanimous decision win over South Africa’s Jeffrey Mathebula in July.
Donaire’s ninth-round destruction of Toshiaki Nishioka this past October may have been his most impressive performance. Donaire turned what was expected to be a tough fight into a sparring session, knocking Nishioka down twice and ending the Japanese fighter’s eight-year undefeated winning streak.
In his last outing, Donaire — nicknamed “The Filipino Flash” — closed in on fighter of the year honors by sending Mexican veteran Jorge Arce into retirement on Dec. 15 via third-round knockout.
Donaire dropped Arce twice en route to sealing the deal with a brutal left hook with only a second remaining in the round.
Though the Donaire bout will be just his 12th professional fight, Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KO) has impressively risen to world champion status since his pro debut in May 2009.
After defecting from his birthplace of Cuba in February 2009, Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, won all but one of his first six professional bouts by knockout.
Rigondeaux then defeated Ricardo Cordoba at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas in November 2010 on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s super welterweight title win over Antonio Margarito.
In what was the biggest bout of his career at the time, Rigondeaux dropped Cordoba with a body shot in the fourth and was ruled knocked down in the sixth, though it appeared he slipped. Rigondeaux controlled most of the bout and was awarded the interim WBA super bantamweight title via surprising split decision.
Following his first-round blowout of Willie Casey in March 2011, Rigondeaux elevated himself to full titleholder status with a sixth-round knockout of defending champion Rico Ramos last January. Rigondeaux knocked Ramos down in the first round with a hard straight left hand then sealed the deal in the sixth with a blistering body shot that left Ramos on his back grimacing in pain.
Rigondeaux has since successfully defended his title twice, defeating Teon Kennedy via fifth-round technical knockout this past June and Roberto Marroquin via unanimous decision that September.
Rigondeaux was scheduled to defend his title against Thailand’s Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym on the Donaire vs. Arce undercard, but the fight was cancelled after the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation refused to issue Kratingdaenggym a license following a failed medical exam.