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Nonito Donaire: The Next Manny Pacquiao

By Gina L. Caliboso

This past Saturday night, Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, 26-1, 18 KO’s, knocked out Fernando Montiel, 44-3-2, 34 KO’s, in a stunning 2nd round KO that left the Mexican fighter twitching on the ground.

From Round 1, Donaire established dominance with a beautiful left hook and later followed up with a well-timed left hook yet again in the 2nd round. I was expecting the fight to extend into the later rounds but the KO just further established Donaire’s position as the number one ranked bantamweight in the entire division.

As the undisputed WBC and WBO Bantamweight champ, Donaire’s achievement now puts just as much pressure on him as well as his fellow bantamweight competitors.

First, Donaire occupies an interesting position in boxing right now. Donaire will no doubt be mentioned as the premier Filipino fighter to pick up right where Pacquiao finishes should he decide to retire after the Mosley bout.

Even as Pacquiao bouts in the last two years have hardly been competitive with the Filipino champ battering his opponents, Donaire should smartly stay within the bantamweights. As I’ve said before, Pacquiao, having continued success moving up in weight is definitely the exception. There will be an expectation for Donaire to always, always win, but on his current path, he is truly demonstrating that he not only wins, but he defeats with his opponent with little doubt as to his skill and athleticism.

One of the more difficult positions for any boxer is to remain at the top of his division. As Donaire is now the #1 ranked bantamweight as well as the titleholder for both the WBC and WBO belts, he will have no shortage of opponents. But more importantly, it will be even more challenging for Donaire to maintain his status as the premier fighter in the division.

As the HBO pre-fight indicated, Donaire underwent a personal evolution by changing his trainers as well as even breaking free from his longtime trainer, his father. It could not have been easy for a son to free himself of his father, but as long as Donaire felt he needed to make a change for his boxing, he has since fared rather well.

I’d also like to mention that as Pacquiao faces his May 7th bout against Mosley, I considered the possibility if whether Donaire could ever be as popular as Pacquiao. I think the answer lies with how I began my article. Any Filipino fighter will face the comparison to be the next Filipino fighter with the same talent and ability and skill as Pacquiao. I honestly don’t think Donaire will be as popular as Pacquiao only because overall, the lower weight divisions below light welterweight aren’t as popular as the welterweight or even middleweight divisions.

With that in mind, I’d like to bring up the current state of the Bantamweight Tournament, brought together by Golden Boy Promotions, Gary Shaw Productions, Thompson Boxing Promotions, and Don King Productions. In Round One of the tournament, held on December 11, 2010, Joseph Agbeko, 28-2, 22 KO’s defeated Yonnhy Perez, 20-1, 14 KO’s with a 12 round unanimous decision. Abner Mares, 21-0, 13 KO’s defeated Vic Darchinyan, 35-3, 27 KO’s with a 12 round split decision.

In the single elimination tournament, the four participants of the tournament will return on April 23rd, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA. Agbeko and Mares, both winners of their bouts will face one another whereas as defeated fighters Darchinyan and Perez will fight against one another. I give kudos to the promoters to finally getting together its top fighters to battle it out in a single elimination tournament.

At the same time I give kudos, I also have to consider that until then, Donaire will have to think very carefully to his next bout. After April 23rd, Donaire should definitely face the winner of the Agbeko – Mares bout. But I’d also like to see Donaire fight Darchinyan again. Donaire had faced Darchinyan back in 2007 where Donaire earned a 5th round KO over the tough brawler. But both Darchinyan and Donaire had faced one another as flyweights. I’d simply like to see how both have worked off some polish since their last meeting. They have both gained weight and both have earned some true ring time. It would be a great rematch.

There is no doubt that Donaire solidified his position as the #1 ranked bantamweight. Should the current bantamweight contenders experience a case of ducking, I don’t see past the idea that Donaire may venture into a heavier, more competitive weight division. Gaining weight is not always such a difficult task for a fighter, but retaining speed and power at a heavier weight can be a challenge. Donaire’s foray into the featherweight division would include a possible match up with exciting fighters such as Indonesian champion Chris John, 44-0-2, 22 KO’s, southpaw Puerto Rican Juan Manuel Lopez, 30-0, 27 KO’s and even Yuriokis Gamboa, 19-0, 15 KO’s.

All three boxers in this division remain undefeated.

The Filipino Flash has definitely entered a stage of his boxing career that each fight can ultimately be a challenge or merely just another fight to take without too much for him to lose. As Donaire is already on the correct path to be his own fighter, he has definitely emerged as a premier fighter in his weight class. Comparisons to Pacquiao notwithstanding, Donaire is a completely gifted and talent boxer with solid KO power. He will not back down from any challenge and the comparisons with Pacquiao will be exactly that – comparisons.

As long as Donaire continues to accept solid challenges and win, he’ll at least have that comparison with Pacquiao, and it’s a wonderful thing to be considered as the boxer with a great talent and a few championship title belts.

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