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Donaire can’t go on winning like this

/ 10:01 PM November 11, 2013

NONITO Donaire Jr., boxing fat and flat, scored a stunning stoppage late in his rematch with Victor Darchinyan, but the Filipino Flash surpassed himself by blurting out the name of two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux  after scoring the uneven come-from behind victory.

Donaire obviously got overly excited.

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Truth to tell, Rigondeaux, who proved superbly unreachable in conquering Donaire last November, was nowhere near. The masterful Cuban, who schooled Donaire in their championship meeting, will also not  be readily available as he has a scheduled bout before the year ends.

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Donaire now campaigns in the plumpier featherweight (126 lb) division, while Rigondeaux, visibly cut out of a rock, has remained a feared ruler in the super bantamweight (122 lb) jungle.

Just the same, Rigondeaux yesterday responded by telling Donaire, “See you in March.”

Donaire’s uneven win took on a noble glow after he lavishly dedicated it to his battered, beloved Philippines.

That, for one, bestows very tangible value on the triumph.

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But whether or not it has pushed him a full notch up in prizefight value is hard to determine.

It’s like this. After being shamed by Rigondeaux, Donaire offered to explain that he did not take the slippery, stylish Cuban seriously.

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At the same time, experts would not buy Nonito’s postfight claim that he did not study a single video of Rigondeaux’s fights.

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On Sunday, against Darchinyan, whom Donaire stopped cold with a sparkling left to the chin in their first encounter six years ago, holes started to show in Nonito’s game.

He was tentative, dull  and didn’t seem ready to wage a full-fledged battle.

There was a silly tendency to plant his feet back before throwing a flat punch, that would often end up as a sloppy push.

Suddenly gone was the original fire and sparkle in his arsenal.

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As expected, he started to trail behind.

He had either retired his vaunted left hook, or he could have left it in the dugout.

Of course, Donaire surprisingly landed a doubtful version of that left punch before the end of the eighth round.

How Donaire scored a bigger  left, as though it had been totally rediscovered in the ninth round en route to completing the stoppage could not honestly be claimed as a spasm of superiority.

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Donaire, for most of the early and middle rounds, did lumber as though he was overdue for retirement.

How he was able to shake off all the lard, accumulated through years of feasting on inferior opposition, will always be a subject of serious speculation.

One thing is sure, though.

Donaire can’t go on winning like this if he hopes to land back in the circle of the elite.

Or are his battle-weary legs still good enough to carry him back up there?

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TAGS: Boxing, Nonito Donaire Jr
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