Guillermo Rigondeaux believes he will be able to shed his reputation as one of the world's most outstanding amateur boxers once and for all when he bids for professional glory in New York on Saturday night.
Rigondeaux's slow rise through the professional ranks since defecting from his native Cuba in 2008 will finally reach a peak on Saturday night when he faces Filipino puncher Nonito Donaire in a hotly anticipated super-bantamweight unification.
Rigondeaux was widely regarded as one of the classiest Cuban boxers of his generation when he won Olympic bantamweight gold in both 2000 and 2004, as well as two world amateur titles.
But it is his amateur exploits for which he is still best remembered, after a low-key start in the professional ranks which culminated in him beating Rico Ramos to take the WBA title last year in just his ninth paid fight.
Rigondeaux said: "I want to repeat my amateur achievements on a professional level. Beating Nonito would be a great achievement and people will stop talking about me as an amateur. A win would be a bigger accomplishment than the gold medals."
Donaire, widely regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and a recent recipient of the 2012 Fighter of the Year award from US journalists, admits he is one of those who was slow to be convinced by the Cuban's talent.
Donaire said: "In the beginning when I followed Rigondeaux I wasn't impressed, but the more I watched him fight the more I realized he is worthy of it.
"He is a really tough guy. Not only does he have speed and power but he does well mentally, so I am really excited about this fight.
"When you have done this for a while, like I have, you tend to be motivated by having a good fighter in front of you. He has a lot of talent and that's why I am training hard for this fight.
"You could have 500 amateur fights but when you go pro it is a different world. But an amateur like Rigondeaux is able to shift his ways to become a world champion, and that is why we do not underestimate him."
The bout at New York's Radio City Music Hall will see Donaire bidding to extend a professional record which stands at 31 wins against a solitary defeat in his second paid fight in 2001.
Donaire's stunning knockout win over then unbeaten flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan thrust him into a spotlight he has shown no signs of quitting since, with subsequent high-profile title wins in super-fly, bantam and super-bantam divisions.
In his last fight in December, Donaire once again emphatically underlined his talent with a three-knockdown, third-round win over veteran Jorge Arce to retain the WBO portion of his title in Houston.
The progress of the 32-year-old Rigondeaux has been much less explosive. After getting into title contention he fought just once in 2011 before returning the following year with relatively low-key wins over Ramos, Teon Kennedy and Robert Marroquin.
His shut-out win over Marroquin in Las Vegas once again exhibited the amateur talents which Rigondeaux is so keen to leave behind, and he has promised the unlikely tactic of taking Saturday's fight to knockout merchant Donaire.
"In this fight I will try to engage more than I have in the past," said Rigondeaux. "I want to give the fans what they want to see. Nonito is an aggressive boxer and I will be coming for him.
"Obviously the public does not respect me because of the number of fights I have had. Nonito has three times the experience I have as a professional and that's why the public will choose him as their favourite."Tags: Nonito Donaire , Guillermo Rigondeaux , Donaire-Rigondeaux , Donaire vs. Rigondeaux