This past weekend we saw Filipino icon Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27) show, at the age of 38, that he is still one of the heaviest handed fighters in the sport as he dominated Nordine Oubaali, dropping him 3 times in 4 rounds to claim the WBC Bantamweight title. The win saw him prove he wasn't shot, and whilst he is certainly old for a Bantamweight, he looked in great condition and bounced back really well form his 2019 loss to Naoya Inoue in the WBSS final.
With the win under his belt we thought it was a chance to focus on Donaire and consider what might be next for him, as we take a look at Five for... Nonito Donaire.
1 - Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai (51-1-1, 41)
We begin with a pretty likely bout, even if it's not a hugely attractive one, and that would be a defense against leading WBC challenger Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai, also known as Nawaphon Kaikanha or Nawaphon Por Chokchai, from Thailand. This is certainly not a big fight for Donaire, but we can hardly complain at him having an easy first defense after reclaiming the WBC Bantamweight title. And potentially even having it in the Philippines, where he's not fought since his 2016 win over Zsolt Bedak, in what was actually his first defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title. Nawaphon would offer very little in terms of a threat to Donaire, but if the "Filipino Flash" wanted to fight in the Philippines once more before he retired Nawaphon would be the ideal safe opponent for such a fight. Nawaphon is also an opponent who would look good on paper, even if his record is awfully padded.
2 - Charlie Edwards (16-1, 6)
Whilst there are super fights out there for Donaire, which we'll get on to shortly, there are other options for him, and one of those is a return to the UK, where he fought twice in 2018. If the UK is somewhere that he wants to return the obvious choice for a UK fight is former WBC Flyweight champion Charlie Edwards, who is ranked very highly by the WBC still. Edwards, who previously faced Johnriel Casimero, would not only serve as a potential UK opponent for Donaire but would also give him a chance to have a head to head rival with Casimero, ahead of a potential all Filipino world title unification bout down the line. Edwards has a style that could pose questions for Donaire, but it seems likely that Donaire's power would land, at some point, and take out the Englishman.
3 - Johnriel Casimero (30-4, 21) / Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1-0-1, 13) winner
The first super obvious potential match up for Donaire is a clash with the winner of the upcoming WBO world title fight between Johnriel Casimero and Guillermo Rigondeaux. It's only #3 on this list because we don't really like including opponents who are tied up with bouts in these lists, but sadly we've got to do it a couple of times in this particularly list.
If Casimero beats Rigondeaux when the two clash in August we'd have the potential for an all Filipino unification bout between the WBC and WBO world champion, something that would be massive for not just the Bantamweight division but also Filipino boxing. It would give us a unified champion, and set us up with a clear front runner for a potential Naoya Inoue bout. A bout between Casimero and Donaire would be incredible, and would see both men taking on a huge puncher, with the bout not just being an all Filipino clash, but also one that could end at any second.
If Rigondeaux beats Casimero it sets up a really, really interesting rematch. Back in 2013 Donaire lost to Rigondeaux, in a bout that stands out as Rigondeaux best win as a professional. By a long way. For Donaire a rematch would be a chance to avenge that loss, and get some sense of revenge for a defeat that really harmed his career. As for Rigondeaux it would be a chance to him to get a second major win over the Filipino icon, and add a lot more to his career, which has promises so much but regularly failed to deliver.
Either of these potential options is good with us!
4 - Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) / Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20) winner
Another 2 for 1 is the winner of the upcoming bout between Naoya Inoue and Michael Dasmarinas. Sure Inoue is the VERY clear betting favourite, but both of these men would make for interesting bouts with Donaire, as long as they win here.
Firstly the potential Inoue bout would be a rematch of the WBSS final from 2019, and would see Donaire get a chance to avenge his only loss as a Bantamweight. Their first bout was a brilliant contest, and a rematch would be expected to be another fantastic fight. As well as the history between the two men the bout would also see 3 titles being unified, as we see the Bantamweight division take a step towards having a unified champion. A rematch between these two would also, potentially, allow fans in the US a chance to see the bout in person, after their first fight was in Japan. Given the choice of all the possible bouts for both men, this is probably the one we most want to see, and we suspect most fans also want to see.
Of course if Inoue loses to Dasmarinas a bout between Donaire and Dasmarinas becomes a huge fight for Filipino boxing, and would see the two men battling for 3 titles in the biggest all Filipino bout in living memory. This would be massive for boxing and would, in some ways, be even bigger than the potential Casimero bout. Especially given that for this one to take place Dasmarinas would need to have upset Inoue, in one of the biggest upsets in recent years. If this one comes about it would be for 3 titles, and would be on the back of big wins for both guys.
5 - Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15)
A bit of an outlandish one to finish with, but one we'd love to see, would be Donaire taking on Japanese star Kazuto Ioka, who would have to move up from Super Flyweight to Bantamweight. It's well known that Ioka wants to only have big fights, and fighting at Super Flyweight his options are rather limited, with the only readily available name being Jerwin Ancajas or a mandatory defenses against Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Decent fights, surely, but not legacy defining ones. A move up to Bantamweight to face Donaire however, would be a career defining bout, and a chance for him to become the first man from Japan to win world titles in 5 weight classes. As for Donaire it'd be a huge chance to get a win over Inoue's country man and a brilliant name to add to his record. This might seem an outlandish bout to think about, but it would be a compelling contest that would test Donaire's power and timing against the skills and boxing IQ of Ioka. It would be high level stuff, and it would be a very, very intriguing bout. It would be a battle of left hooks, and it could be the bout we didn't know we wanted!
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).