IMAGINE for a moment if Nonito Donaire Jr. had failed to stop the once-flamboyant Jorge Arce last week in their WBO super bantamweight duel.
Hard to think of it given Donaire’s hand speed, power and boxing intelligence. And besides, he was on a roll, having won all his previous three fights in a very busy year.
Donaire was not going to let that happen last week. He had youth on his side and that raw warrior’s edge that is probably at its sharpest right now. In three rounds, he was done with Arce.
Donaire simply hates long fights and having to leave the outcome in the hands of the judges.
What a grim holiday season it would have been in our sporting woods if Donaire lost. Manny Pacquiao had been knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. The gutsy Philippine Azklas couldn’t score against Singapore and move forward into the Suzuki Cup finals.
We needed Donaire’s win as well for sports to contribute to the festive season.
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It’s a good thing we are well stocked with able boxers already making waves on the international stage or are beginning to show their talents in local boxing cards. Filipino fighters are regular contenders in a variety of weight categories in the different world boxing associations, all waiting for that golden ticket that will make them follow the path Pacquiao and Donaire have opened up for them.
In the fight promotions held by groups like In This Corner, Pinoy Pride and the Elorde stables, there is an ample supply of eager young hopefuls ready to plunge into the rewards and dangers of a boxing career.
Pacquiao and Donaire are the popular inspirations for these tyros. They will take on equally ambitious young ones like them or hardened boxing journeymen who have run out of dreams but only need a fight to put food on the family table.
The fighters are there for the livelihood but will find out soon enough that flag and country matter as well. It kicks in once they get booked for their first international fight usually in Thailand, Japan or South Korea.
Your trunks and robe have a Philippine flag. You and your handlers are often the only Filipinos around. You become conscious of your nationality right away.
If the young upstart has a devastating left or right hook, then he might go home with a knockout win. But if he merely dances and boxes and hopes that the judges will see the fight his way, then the rude reality of boxing kicks in. An epiphany about needing to do better for self and country starts to kick in.
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The good thing about having a well stocked stable of Filipino fighters for the international scene is that we will never run out of heroes to root for. One or two will fall but there will be another that will pick up the cause.
This is so unlike the team sports where there can be only one national basketball, football or baseball team to root for.
Let’s hope that the handlers of these upstarts and upcoming fighters will be patient and caring in shaping their careers. So many potential champions have been destroyed by greed and overzealousness to make a buck or produce the next Pacquiao or Donaire in a hurry.
Not every fighter is the next Pacquiao or Donaire but everyone can be given a chance to have a decent career following their patient footsteps.