Donaire putting a lot on the line in next boutBy Marc Anthony Reyes
It never fails. That tsunami of expectations that rush by every time Nonito Donaire Jr. steps into the ring. Sometimes they are too big they inundate the crafty fighter’s already impressive feats.
He defeated his last three foes convincingly – the last two he floored using his sensational left hook – yet it failed to silence critics who want a knockout.
They always want more. Nothing is ever enough.
But I never heard Donaire complain. After all, if your fists dealt the shocking knockout defeats of renowned fighters like Vic Darchinyan and Fernando Montiel, that should come with the territory.
Two days after breaking Jeffrey Mathebula’s jaws last July, Donaire came down to the lobby from his Marriott Manhattan Beach suite to tell this reporter that what floored the 6-foot South African champ was “just a check hook.”
Now he’s up against Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3 with 24 KOs). The well respected Japanese is still ranked by Ring Magazine as the No. 1 in 122lbs despite not fighting for a year and losing his WBC crown in the process.
Yes, Nishioka is 36 and could very well be past his prime, but a sensational win over him could boost Donaire’s stock exponentially.
This could bust the charts from somebody who is already in everybody’s best pound-for-pound list despite three previous fights where he turned in decent victories but still left a lot of people unsatisfied.
Which brought us to the issue of how he will handle somebody who is as crafty as Nishioka, who will not hesitate to slug it out but definitely will be on the lookout to exploit any possible weak spots in Donaire’s defenses.
Against Mathebula and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., and Omar Narvaez before him, Donaire (29-1-0 with 18 KOs) admittedly said he chose to put aside his combinations in pursuit of what ringside announcers aptly described as grand slam punch. That, by all means, won’t cut it against Nishioka.
“It’s going to be a high speed chess match,” Donaire put it succinctly in recent interviews in the lead-up to their Oct. 13 fight (Oct. 14 in Manila) at the Home Depot Center in the LA suburb of Carson, California.
Like Donaire, Nishioka’s bread and butter is his speed and power punches (specifically his right straight). Both are seen as strategists with uncanny ability to improvise right in the middle of combat, and armed with powerful tools to sense weakness and work on it
on the fly.
There are reports that Nishioka is looking at the fight as his last and thereby searching for a fitting swan song to his splendid career that didn’t have to make stops at key US venues but instead thrived for the most part on the lucrative Japan stage.
He dogged Donaire last July and was even at ringside when he decisioned Mathebula. “I was preparing for this fight for a year, I thought he’s facing Jorge Arce. But suddenly I was on the line,” the Japanese southpaw said in several interviews posted over the Internet.
Nishioka wants to highlight his career with a win over Donaire, a young hot shot on the peak of his career and on the top of everybody’s pound-for-pound list. But for sure he’s taking a high-risk task because it could only end in stunning fashion – win or lose.
For Donaire, he’s banking on his youth. He will be trying to prove his detractors wrong, that he – in fact – managed to pack his power punches into the heavier class.
Yet probably more than that, Donaire will try to finally break into the realm of the big boys. The pay-per-view club. The Big Time. That’s something that’s on his crosshairs for quite sometime. And this could be the key yet again.
A smashing victory over somebody as highly regarded as Nishioka could very well be his ticket to the 126lbs. They could silence the rants of the other 122lbs belt owners in the division like undefeated Cuban Guillermo Rigondeux (WBA) and Abner Mares (WBC) once and for all.
All things said, the fight matters more to Donaire than the WBO and IBF belts he’s putting on the line.
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