Donaire stops Nishioka in ninthBy Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
CARSON CITY, California—Just when Nonito Donaire Jr. seemed headed for another lackluster championship win, the Filipino Flash delivered the kind of victory that should now make him a sought-after ring gladiator.
Donaire fired a short but vicious right straight to the jaw that toppled Japanese Toshiaki Nishioka in the ninth round to win by technical knockout and retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight title on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila) at Home Depot Center.
Although Nishioka rose at the count of six and referee Raul Caiz Sr. allowed the still wobbly Japanese to resume the fight, it was obvious he was done for the night.
After a Donaire punch that missed his staggering rival, Caiz stopped the fight in one minute 54 seconds of the round.
“I know he’s a great fighter and that both of us can end the match with one punch. It boils down to who makes the mistake and he made that mistake,” Donaire said.
Donaire, 29, also decked his 36-year-old opponent with an uppercut late in the sixth round.
Power and skill
The Japanese, who was seeing action a year after giving up his World Boxing Council (WBC) crown, waged a tactical battle against the charging Filipino champion.
In raising his record to 30-1-0 with 19 KOs, Donaire earned $800,000 and inched closer to a possible pay-per-view fight. Top Rank boss Bob Arum plans to pit him with the popular Jorge Arce, a former bantamweight champion, in Mexico City possibly before the year is over.
Only the WBO belt was at stake as the International Boxing Federation (IBF) reportedly asked for a big fee to sanction the fight.
Nishioka had won 16 straight fights since March 2004, but couldn’t keep up with Donaire’s combination of power and tactical skill.
Donaire, who failed to finish his last three foes inside the distance, stuck to his strategy of using jabs and throwing combinations, causing welts under Nishioka’s right eye by the fourth round.
By then, Nishioka was looking very much like headed for retirement. He barely threw punches and seemed content to just last the distance.
With the fans shouting for more action, Donaire slipped in a left uppercut to Nishioka’s face and floored him with 50 seconds left in the sixth round.
But the Japanese, who had survived knockdowns to win fights before, beat the count and finished the round despite taking heavy punches in the face.
Left hand hurt
Donaire outpunched Nishioka, 31-7, in that round, according to CompuBox statistics. But Donaire hurt his left hand in throwing the uppercut. He later showed a bleeding knuckle when he took his gloves off.
“My left was hurt, that’s why I slowed down a bit,” said the 29-year-old native of Gen. Santos City, also the hometown of his more illustrious compatriot, Manny Pacquiao.
“It was not because I was tired. It was because I was trying to find another way to cut him through,” he added.
What he found in his arsenal was his right straight, which eventually did the job.
In the ninth, Donaire—who has been waiting in the wings for super fights that could bring him to the A-list of pay-per-view stars—found an opening with his right hand and dropped the Japanese.
Nishioka beat the count, but Donaire charged like a bull and fired a looping left that grazed the head of the groggy Japanese. The referee stepped in and halted the fight.
A paying crowd of 7,665 fans showed up at the 8,000-seat tennis stadium, most of them Mexicans who came to support their countrymen fighting in the undercards.
Boxing greats Julio Cezar Chavez and Marco Antonio Barrera were at ringside as commentators for a Mexican TV network.
Donaire’s impressive win came after a spectacular clash in the undercard between light welterweights Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado for the WBO Latino title. Rios stopped Alvarado in 1:57 of the seventh round in a savage fight that sent the crowd roaring on their feet.
Rios lined himself up for a possible fight with the winner of the fourth Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight in December, if the winner agrees, according to Arum.
Best in the division
The Rios-Alvarado fight was so compelling the crowd started to boo Donaire and Nishioka in the opening bell as the two took time to size each other up.
In February, Donaire captured the vacant WBO 122-pound title, winning a gritty split-decision over former world champion Wilfredo Vazquez. Five months later, he added the IBF title with a unanimous decision over Jeffrey Mathebula.
Donaire had won his previous three fights on points, and so was pleased to stop his opponent. “I got the guy that I thought was the best in the division. Everybody is free fall,” he said.
Nishioka had been unbeaten for 16 contests going into the fight and had successfully defended the WBC 122-pound title seven times between 2009 and 2011.
Nishioka had not lost by knockout since the second fight of his career in 1995 and had not lost any contest since Thai star Veeraphol Sahaprom beat him in 2004. With reports from AP and AFP