By Chris Robinson
This past weekend, HBO presented a solid card from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. defended his WBC middleweight crown against worthy challenger Marco Antonio Rubio while Nonito Donaire captured the vacant WBO junior featherweight crown with an eventful unanimous decision over former champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
While both Chavez and Donaire overcame their struggles to move forward in the sport, it is worth pointing out that there were several subplots floating around ringside as the action went down, as is always the case at any event.
Two-time Cuban gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux was in town to eye the Donaire-Vazquez event, as he had specifically been calling for Donaire in recent weeks. Rigondeaux lifted the WBA belt into the air with his January 20th knockout over Rico Ramos at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas on Showtime's airwaves and the southpaw is a deadly counterpuncher with great boxing acumen.
After spending his time at the Donaire showcase, Rigondeaux would later tell BoxingScene.com’s Reynaldo Sanchez that he was furious that his presence at the event was ignored by promoter Top Rank, HBO, and Donaire. Rigondeaux also expressed disdain towards color commentator Larry Merchant for his post-fight interview with Donaire, as he made no mention of a fight between the two champions.
I had interviewed Merchant about his time at the event and made a point to get his thoughts on Rigondeaux’s claims at the tail end of our conversation.
“Who? Give me a break,” Merchant fired back, adding in a bit of sarcasm. “This is a guy who has had nine professional fights. He’s a good fighter, and I don’t blame him for trying to build his case, but there’s less than no clamor for that fight. I think Rigondeaux is another fighter who has no fan base in America and he wants to fight a top guy, that’s perfectly understandable. He’s going to try to get the ear of the boxing media, that’s perfectly understandable.”
It’s not that Merchant is opposed to the fight, but for the moment he doesn’t see the need in it.
“It’s not a fight that I think is in their best interest now,” Merchant continued. “[Donaire is] 29 years old I think, he’s moving up in weight, he’s trying to seize his moment to get the payoff on a long career and if he has an opportunity to fight [Jorge] Arce, who would you rather see? Donaire and Arce or Donaire or Rigondeaux?”