By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Over the weekend, the Filipino Flash showed that he may be a lion in winter, but he is still a lion. The highlight reel knockout of Stephon Young of the U.S. was what the doctor ordered for the 36 year old Nonito Donaire.
Donaire has a resume that will certainly make him a first ballot Hall of Famer. But after dropping out of everyone’s pound for pound list following losses to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jamaican Nicholas Walters five years ago, there were those who thought his best years were behind him. He dropped down from 126 to 122 lbs and captured the WBO junior featherweight title with a courageous performance against Mexican Cesar Juarez in 2014.
In one of his defenses against Hungarian Zsolt Bedak, Donaire set a gate record in Cebu, Philippines where the crowd was estimated to go beyond 30,000.
But after losing his title to Jessie Magdaleno of the U.S in 2016 followed by last year’s lost to U.K.’s Carl Frampton in his attempt to go back to 126 lbs, many thought his career as a top fighter was over.
Last year, he announced he was moving down in weight once again to 118 lbs and join the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) bantamweight tournament. Many doubted if he could pull it off. The last time he fought as a bantamweight was in 2011.
But last November, Donaire won another world title belt when Ryan Burnett decided not to continue fighting in Glasgow, Scotland. Donaire had the WBA super title in his hands and a semis slot in the WBSS. Was it just a lucky break?
He was a dominant boxer from 112 to 118 lbs but many still refer to him in the past tense.
In the semis, he was faced with another injury situation in Louisiana when WBO champ Zolani Tete of South Africa withdrew just days going into fight because of a shoulder injury. Young was tapped as a substitute and he did make a good account of himself in the early rounds.
But a right hand lead from Donaire stunned the southpaw Young near the end of the third round. Donaire stepped on the pressure in the fourth and at the end of the round, Young had the look of a beaten man walking to his corner.
Donaire continued to dish out punishment in the fifth and in the sixth, Young dropped his right hand for a split second and that was all that Donaire need to land his fabled left hook.
It was lights out for the Young and Donaire now awaits the winner of Japan’s Naoya Inoue vs Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez. Outside of Rodriguez’s immediate relatives, fans are expecting a Donaire (40-5,26KO’s) vs Inoue (17-0, 15KO’s) finals.
Inoue is ten years younger than Donaire. Aside from the WBA regular bantamweight title belt, he has won the WBC light flyweight and WBO junior bantamweight titles. Inoue, a.k.a. the “Monster”, is arguably the most fearsome puncher in the lighter weight divisions today.
Donaire has been in high pressure situations before. He was an unknown in 2007 when he knocked out Vic Darchinyan of Australia for the IBF flyweight title. He has beaten challengers who have held world title belts like South Africans Moruti Mthalane , Mexicans Hernan Marquez ,Fernando Montiel and Jorge Arce, Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vasquez,Jr, Argentine Omar Narvaez and Japanese Toshiaki Nishioka. The list of the world titles he has won is long – IBF flyweight, WBA interim super flyweight, WBO and WBC bantamweight, WBO and IBF junior featherweight, WBA featherweight, his current WBA bantamweight super title and WBC Diamond belt.
It would be unwise to count him out again.
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