by Chris Robinson
San Antonio, Texas - Later tonight, the man considered one of the world’s finest talents, Nonito Donaire, with face off with Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the vacant WBO junior featherweight crown. Donaire meets the brash Puerto Rican inside of the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas in an HBO-televised showcase that could serve as a springboard to a great 2012 for the charismatic Fil-Am star.
And while the once-beaten Vazquez is still a threat given his size and power, people have already begun to speculate about Donaire’s next move. The most attractive opponent at the moment seems to be two-time Cuban gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux, fresh off of his 6th round knockout over Rico Ramos last month at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas.
Rigondeaux would register knockdowns in round one and six against Ramos as he captured his first professional belt, the WBA junior featherweight crown, and is a danger to anyone given his great ring awareness, savvy, and deadly counter-punching ability.
Rigondeaux’s former trainer Ronnie Shields was able to take in his performance against Ramos and seems to understand exactly while his ex-pupil fights the way he does. Speaking from the Donaire-Vazquez official weigh-in at the Alamodome, Shields shared his thoughts with me.
“I thought he fought a good fight,” Shields explained. “I would have liked to see him get a little bit busier earlier, I think he could have got him out of there earlier. But he fights the way he fights and he does it in his own way.”
Shields had been working closely with Rigondeaux in his Houston, Texas bases and it was a surprise to see the talented fighter part ways and shift his camp down to South Florida for the Ramos showdown. Rigondeaux’s conditioning coach DJ Montanocordoba had explained to me that it was because Shields was running too busy of a schedule with his stable of fighters but Ronnie quickly refuted such claims.
“There was a lot of different things,” said Shields. “I’m always busy, which is true, but I always have time for every fighter that I work with. So it was more of a conflict with him and management as far as him coming down to Houston and paying for his own camps. That’s really what was the real deal.”
Shields was asked for his take on tonight’s Donaire-Vazquez bout and couldn’t seem to pick a clear winner, only noting that he expects a great fight.
But when it comes to a possible Donaire-Rigondeaux attraction, Shields seems to have a definite feel for the outcome.
“I think Rigondeaux is too strong for him, absolutely,” said Shields. “He’s never fought a guy like Rigondeaux. Rigondeaux is a really great fighter and you know what? He makes everybody fight the way he fights. And look, he’s just too strong for Donaire, I believe.”
Nonito Donaire-Wilfredo Vazquez pre-fight Bonus Slideshows
Massive Chavez Jr.-Rubio / Donaire-Vazquez Weigh-in Gallery - A closer look at all four HBO stars weighing in, behind the scenes shots and cameos by Freddie Roach, Bob Arum, Larry Merchant, and several others