VINTAGE FILIPINO FLASH
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
A year and a half after losing in an epic battle to Naoya Inoue, Nonito Donaire is a world champion again.
This time, he did it at 38 years old and established himself as the oldest bantamweight world titleholder in history. Donaire was the sentimental favorite here in his birthplace, the Philippines. But with every aging fighter, there will always be questions as to whether he can still pull the trigger.
He was also up against an unbeaten WBC champion, Frenchman Nordine Oubaali, four years his junior, who had previously stopped Filipino contenders Mark Anthony Geraldo and Arthur Villanueva.
But the Filipino Flash did it in style. Even in the tentative, range finding first two rounds, the entire Filipino boxing nation felt something spectacular was going to happen. The southpaw Oubaali couldn’t find the range and timing for his left.
Donaire did an excellent job with his feints, head movement and proceeded to cut the ring off, setting up Oubaali with a body punch followed by a counter left hook, dropping him in the third.
Most boxers would not have remained on the canvas, but Oubaali bravely got up, only to taste Donaire’s left hook again at the end of the round. Oubaali went down like he was shot.
No one would have blamed the referee if he stopped it at that point, but the count was given. Oubaali got up again and staggered to his corner, getting a few precious seconds to gather his wits.
The fourth round was like a nature documentary; the jungle predator chasing his prey. Donaire said in the post-fight interview, he planned to take shots just to get his left hook in. He knew Oubaali was going to make a mistake and pay for it.
A couple of hooks decked Oubaali again, this time, the referee signaled it was over. Donaire broke his personal record, he turned 35 years old a couple of weeks after he beat Ryan Burnett for the WBA bantamweight crown.
For the record, the previous oldest bantamweight world champ was Donaire’s countryman Gerry Penalosa, who was 36 when he took the WBO bantamweight title from Mexican Jhonny Gonzalez.
Hard to believe it’s been 14 years since he knocked out Vic Darchinyan for the IBF flyweight title. Donaire would go on to get an interim WBA belt at 115 then win the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles, the WBO junior featherweight and WBA featherweight titles. He would drop down and win more titles – WBO junior featherweight and WBA bantamweight.
In between, every time he lost - Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nicholas Walters, Jessie Magdaleno,Carl Frampton and Inoue - there were those who thought his best years were behind him. But he kept bouncing back to add to his sure-fire Hall of Fame resume.
Nonito Donaire,Donnie Nietes and Manny Pacquiao are the only three Filipino boxers to win more than three world titles in different weights. Donaire has also beaten a total of 13 world champions.
Donaire (41-6,27KO’s) talked about facing Rigondeaux and Inoue again in his post-fight interview. His win against Oubaali in Carson,California will definitely give second thoughts to those who will peg him as an underdog again.
6/21/2021 10:02:27 am
The Filipino Flash has cemented his legacy again and again.
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