SACRAMENTO, California—“This is b_ll sh_t, this is b_ll sh_t,” the crowd at the Theater of the Madison Square Garden roared in frustration last night as the bell rang for the 10th round of Nonito Donaire Jr’s twin bantamweight title defense against Argentina’s Omar Narvaez.
“I’m bored,” the Filipino Flash deliberately muttered to his trainer Robert Garcia in between rounds and for the HBO ringside microphone to capture just to vent his feelings about the match he eventually won by a mile against the previously unbeaten world junior bantamweight champion.
Narvaez obviously came to New York not to fight, but to survive. “The Garden is home to professional hockey’s New York Rangers,” joked HBO analyst Max Kellerman. “Narvaez is acting more like an NHL goalie than a boxer—he is spending the night blocking Donaire’s shots.”
To defend his WBC/WBO titles, Donaire trained for six months for what he thought was an explosive fight against a wily ring tactician, an Argentinian sports celebrity who defended his world crown 19 times before moving up in weight to face the Flash.
“Now I know how (Manny) Pacquiao felt about Joshua Clottey,” Donaire told Kellerman in the postfight interview.
This match of the “good little man versus the littler man,” as Kellerman puts it somewhat resembled Pacquiao’s fight against Clottey before an equally frustrated crowd of over 50,000 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas in March last year.
It was no contest as Clottey simply kept his guard high and rarely threw punches. Boxing’s pound-for-pound king punished him anyway with bunches of punches to the body throughout in scoring a unanimous decision to retain his WBO welterweight title.
Kellerman asked Nonito—who threw punches six or seven times more than his opponent—why he did not do a Pacquiao? “Because Narvaez would not move,” Donaire said.
In the last two rounds, Donaire got a bit antsy and opened up his defense to entice Narvaez to engage. Nonito was willing to get hit to excite his opponent to no avail. Narvaez was unwilling to crack the shell he has built around him.
Even promoter Bob Arum was not amused by what turned out to be a less pleasing promotion for his ward. He was glum-faced at ringside throughout the fight.
Arum has told the Inquirer’s Marc Anthony Reyes in New York that the goal, as for any fighter, is to make the Filipino Flash a pay-per-view attraction. Arum said that when that time comes, Nonito will make his money based on how many people follow him on pay-per-view.
Last night’s fight was a non-PPV event. It was shown on HBO’s popular series Boxing After Dark which comes free to regular subscribers of the cable TV giant.
Anyway, you can’t blame Donaire for trying hard to make the Garden crowd and the discriminating New York press happy. He wanted to boost his own stock and those of his handlers and fans as he continues to knock on the door of superstardom.
The boring encounter with Narvaez earned the Filipino Flash the biggest paycheck of his career—$725,000. It was also Donaire’s last as a bantamweight. He will fight as a super bantamweight next, but everyone in the boxing world knows that he has his eyes on the featherweight division packed with talent to secure more high profile fights and to strengthen the Donaire brand.