By Ryan Maquiñana
Andre Ward was ringside for his childhood friend Nonito Donaire’s Saturday night title loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, and the super middleweight world champion gave Comcast SportsNet Bay Area his take on the fight.
“From a personal standpoint, I’m disappointed, but you gotta take your hat off to Rigondeaux. He did what he had to do,” Ward said. “These things happen in boxing, especially when you have a guy like Nonito, who’s fighting the best, fight in and fight out.
“He’s not getting soft touches. There’s no machine pushing him and trying to make him into a star. He’s making himself a star by fighting the best, and when you fight the best, these kind of things happen. Nonito didn’t get beat up tonight. He fought a competitive fight. It just didn’t go his way.”
Ward, who grew up with Donaire in the Bay Area as they cultivated their early careers on the local amateur circuit, also commented on whether or not he scored the fight from his seat.
“Well, first, I’m biased, and second, I didn’t score it because it’s hard to score it when I’m watching the fight as a fan,” Ward said. “I’m just kind of into the action. I don’t really know what the scorecards should have been, but at the moment, you gotta tip your hat to Rigo.”
Ward, who serves a rising analyst for HBO in between his own fights, broke down how he thought the tactical chess match transpired.
“Rigondeaux’s a counterpuncher, but he showed a lot of different things tonight,” Ward said. “The first couple rounds, he stood his ground. He got hit with big shots. People thought he was going to fall. He didn’t fall. He actually came back and landed his own big shots.”
When asked what Donaire could have done differently to possibly change the outcome of the fight, Ward offered his perspective.
“I think if anything, in a perfect world, ‘Nito could have stopped headhunting so much and shot at his chest because Rigo’s getting real low, he would have ran into the shots."
Ward also felt Donaire could have refrained from loading up on his shots a bit.
“The knockouts, man, they’re exciting, and ‘Nito’s been getting them, but you can’t look for it. And when you look for it, sometimes you’re not as active as you should be, and a judge can look at that and say, ‘Maybe you’re getting outworked.’ "
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.