Guillermo Rigondeaux retained his WBA super bantamweight championship and added the WBO super bantamweight belt, unanimously outpointing Nonito Donaire on Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall.
Rigondeaux improved to 12-0, receiving winning scores of 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111 in the unification bout. He failed to knock out his opponent for only the fourth time since turning pro, but overcame being knocked down twice in the opening minute of the 10th round in a performance that had some booing the lack of action.
Rigondeaux's speed appeared to be too much for Donaire (31-2), who was trying to defend his WBO super bantamweight belt for the fifth time. Donaire, the Professional Boxing Writers Association fighter of the year for 2012, was handed his first loss in 30 fights since 2001.
"I apologise,'' Donaire said.
"I wanted to deliver. During the last two rounds, I got stupid. I didn't do my job. I didn't use my jab and go to my left. I have no excuse. He beat me tonight. I gave it all I got. I never studied the fight and I should have.''
The Cuban defector, a two-time gold medallist believed to have fought over 400 amateur bouts, landed 129 of 396 punches. Donaire landed only 82 of 352 punches and by the time the fight ended, he was trying to avoid further swelling on his right eye.
"We fought the Cuban boxing way, hit and don't get hit,'' trainer Pedro Diaz said. "We made Donaire look very bad.''
Donaire appeared to knock down Rigondeaux in the opening seconds of the 10th, but referee Benjy Esteves ruled it a slip. After being dropped with a left hand, Rigondeaux quickly got up.
Going into the 12th round, judges Tom Schreck and Julie Lederman had the fight in favour of Rigondeaux, with Schreck scoring it 105-103 and Lederman 106-102. John Stewart had the fight even at 104-104.
"He was pitching a shutout,'' trainer Diaz said.
"He won every round. He was throwing more punches and being more aggressive.''
Rigondeaux ended his biggest victory as a pro by opening the 12th with three hard lefts and then began punishing Donaire with a series of punches along the ropes.
"I saw Nonito looking for one punch,'' current WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley said.
"It seemed like he was looking for one punch. He was following him around the ring but the thing about the Cubans is that they're so smart. That's why you kept seeing that right hand around the head. That's Cuban style fighting. That's what they do.''
In the build-up to the fight, Donaire and Rigondeaux had an eye-to-eye confrontation in the weigh-in. When the fight concluded, Donaire headed to Rigondeaux's corner and told him he was the best.
Rigondeaux dominated the opening round and appeared to catch Donaire off-guard quickly with a pair of effective left hands and then got his attention with two more right hands, including one near the final bell.
"This is boxing,'' Rigondeaux said. "I got him right away. He didn't hurt me.''
The fight was the second in the 82-year history of the building. The other was in 2000 when Roy Jones Jr. retained the light heavyweight championship against David Telesco in 2000.
Promoters said a crowd of 6,145 fans attended the fight including NBA star Carmelo Anthony.