IS NONITO DONAIRE STILL AN “A” FIGHTER?
Los Angeles, CA- Nonito Donaire (32-2, 21 KOs) kept his career afloat for the moment with a 9th round TKO over Vic Darchinyan (39-6-1, 28 KOs), a guy he had previously stopped in five rounds back on July 7, 2007. Despite earning the W over Vic, this was not an impressive performance by Nonito by any stretch.
ONCE SUPERSTAR NOW A QUESTION MARK
Once considered a top five ‘pound-for-pound’ talent by many in the boxing community, Donaire always looked quite limited in my opinion. Yes, he has good power. Yes, he does have some ability. Yes, he has carried these things with him as he has traversed weight classes, but “The Filipino Flash” has also carried his limitations. He has been overrated, which is something I know all about after putting Abner Mares (26-1-1, 14 KO) in my pound-for-pound top five shortly before he was starched in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KO) this August.
DONAIRE HAS HAD “LEAKS IN HULL” FOR SOME TIME
The first time I noticed Donaire’s flaws as a pugilist was back in 2011 against Omar Narvaez (40-1-2, 21 KOs). Nonito essentially pitched a shutout that night and captured a very wide UD victory, but he had difficulty landing anything substantial on a much smaller man moving up in weight. Narvaez used his defense and movement to avoid taking any punishment. This was just a few months after what I view as Nonito’s finest hour, a two-round destruction of Fernando Montiel (50-4-2, 38 KOs), so I decided to give Donaire a pass.
“GREEN” VAZQUEZ PUSHED NONITO HARD!
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (23-3-1, 19 KO) again illuminated some cracks in Donaire’s armor. Though the fight was not close enough to warrant the split decision in favor of Donaire and should have been a unanimous decision for the Fil-Am fighter instead, Vazquez certainly won some rounds by boxing effectively. Jeffrey Mathebula (27-4-2, 14 KOs) likely did enough to beat Nonito, but walked away with a WIDE UD loss. Even if you had Nonito winning that fight, one in which he was significantly out-thrown and out-landed, Mathebula deserved far more rounds than he was given on the official cards, which read 117-110 once and 119-108 twice in favor of Donaire.
LUSTER OF DONAIRE NOT OVERLY COMPELLING
Donaire and promoter Bob Arum decided to play it safe and visit some senior homes to find his next two opponents in Toshiaki Nishioka (39-5-3, 24 KOs) and Jorge Arce (64-7-2, 46 KOs). Nonito beat both fairly easily, though again struggled to land against Nishioka, who was coming off a year layoff and retired after the fight. Arce retired after getting drilled in three rounds against Donaire, though he is returning to the ring this Saturday after eleven months away.
DONAIRE MEETS TWO-TIME OLYMPIC CHAMP RIGONDEAUX
Going into the Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) fight, many expected Donaire to destroy the “chinny” Cuban. Instead, Rigo carved him up over 12 rounds and had Nonito on the retreat in the final stanza. I knew going in that the Cuban amateur standout would win. The only question mark was his chin, which proved to be rather sturdy after all. Rigo took Nonito’s prized left hook away from him, and made him look like a fish out of water.
NONITO OVERLY PRAISED BY STAR-STARVED MEDIA
A myriad of excuses came from the Donaire camp following this one-sided loss (weight issues, training issues, shoulder injury, child on the way, etc.), but none of them rang true. He was simply outclassed by the superior boxer that night. If they fought ten more times, I would bet money on “El Chacal” winning 9 times at least. Nonito has been exposed as a puncher with a little boxing ability, and has not had a truly impressive performance against a worthy opponent since he beheaded Montiel back in 2011. A guy he beat handily in Vic Darchinyan was able to bust him up and hurt him on multiple occasions on Saturday night, thus I think it is time for Nonito to take a long look at his career.
OVER THE HILL FOR LIGHTER WEIGHT GUY?
At 30, Donaire is beginning to get up in age for a lower-weight fighter. He has a solid resume and has beaten most of the people he has entered the ring with. He is also a bit of a one-trick pony. Luckily for him, that one-trick has been a lethal left hook that has carried him to the top of a few divisions. Can he come back and beat some good opponents? No doubt. He is nowhere near “shot”. Does he still have the competitive fire to compete with the best of the best? Truth be told, I think Guillermo Rigondeaux extinguished that fire back in April.
Zak “Attack” Young