The promoter spoke enthusiastically about the bout, which pits his fighter, 30-year-old Nonito Donaire, named by the Boxing Writers Association of America their 2012 Fighter of the Year, against Cuban technician Guillermo Rigondeaux, regarded as maybe the best amateur of all-time, but still semi green as a pro, with an 11-0 mark. The matchup clearly juices Arum, but the setting for the bout, Radio City, seems to excite him equally.
Arum has done a boatload of shows at Madison Square Garden since he got his feet wet in the business in 1966, promoted a Miguel Cotto fight at Yankee Stadium in 2010, and now fulfills a Triple Crown, of sorts, by placing the second pro fight card ever at Radio City. (Roy Jones beat David Telesco in the first, back in 2000.)
“Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and Radio City Music Hall are iconic locations,” Arum said. “I was blown away when my parents took me to these places when I was a kid. I really never dreamed I’d be promoting Ali in the Garden or at Yankee Stadium.”
The dealmaker said he had no jet lag after returning from a promotion last Saturday in Macau. He expects Radio City to be sold out, and the fracas between Donaire, who holds the WBO 122-pound crown, and the 32-year-old Rigo, the WBA champ, to be a pleasing style clash.
Donaire candidly admitted during his time at the mic that he could be at a precarious stage. "At this time of my career is when people are usually vulnerable," said the California resident with a 31-1 mark. "You get ‘Fight of the Year,’ you get a baby coming ... but I guarantee you coming into the fight you’ll see the best Nonito Donaire." His wife Rachel, who was in attendance, is expecting their first child in July.
Rigo's comfort zone is in the ring, not at the mic stand. The Cuban-born hitter, who lives in Miami, was spare in his remarks. "I’ll become a world champion once again and unify the titles," he promised. Rigo won an interim super bantam title in just his sixth pro outing but he's no neophyte. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, he had over 400 amateur fights.
Donaire said after the two did their customary staredown that he achieved a "moral victory" because Rigo was shifty, and broke eye contact, indicating, he said, a level of discomfort.