This coming Saturday in California we'll see WBC Bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27) take on interim champion Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20) in a mandatory title fight, and a rare all-Filipino world title bout.
The bout isn't the one anyone wanted to see for Donaire, who had been linked to unification bouts against Naoya Inoue and Johnriel Casimero, but it should be a an interesting one, with the bout serving as a chance for Donaire, aged 39, to continue an incredible late career run as a world champion and for Gaballo to announce himself a legitimate world level fighter.
Of the two men the more well known, by far, is Donaire. He's a true future Hall of Famer and a legitimate legend of the sport. His career has seen him win world titles at Flyweight, Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight and Featherweight, before moving back down the weights and picking up Super Bantamweight and Bantamweight titles a second time. Now aged 39 he is the oldest ever Bantamweight world champion, and he is still a devastating fighter. He gave Naoya Inoue his toughest bout, in 2019, and blasted out Nordine Oubaali this past May for the WBC title, proving that even now, at a very advanced age for a Bantamweight, he is still a world class fighter.
In his younger years Donaire was a very sharp boxer-puncher. He was technically solid, without being spectacular, but had lightning speed, amazing timing and fight changing power. His left hook was as potent a weapon as any fighter had in their arsenal. As he moved up the weights and ages, he slowed down, and whilst his power has always been brutal he's adapted his style, allowing him to age remarkably well in the ring. He's no longer a quick, sharp puncher, but instead he's become the sort of Horror Villain, walking opponents down, hunting them and forcing an error for him to counter. He's now using his size, and he is a huge Bantamweight, and experience rather than speed and is a very, very hard man to beat at 118lbs.
Reymart Gaballo on the other hand is someone looking to make an impact, and make up for a very underwhelming performance last time out, when he took a much debated split decision against Emmanuel Rodriguez. The heavy handed Gaballo has looked really good at times, and for much of his career he has looked like a heavy handed, quick, sharp and exciting fighter. He showed what he could do in his US debut, when he beat Stephon Young for the WBA "interim" world title, though sadly he then went on to score some low key wins, rather than build on that one, and it wasn't until last December that he faced another noteworthy fighter, and took that questionable decision over Rodriguez. That bout saw him look limited, tame, and very much like a fighter trying to change his style, right before the biggest fight of his career. In that win he was more patient than ever, but looked like he had lost himself to a change that he didn't fully believe in or truly commit to.
At his best Gaballo looks explosive, hard hitting, and like a man who loves committing to combinations and flurries, with a good sense of flair and excitement. In fact he has a lot of similarities to John Riel Casimero, albeit a much less proven and less impressive Casimero. Sadly though he really didn't fight his usual fighter against Rodriguez, and the likely reason for that is the fact Rodriguez didn't let him. Instead Rodriguez boxed, used his brain, created range and angles and left Gaballo looking lost and confused and really not doing much at all as a result. That bout left us feeling that he was trying to change who he was, and lost what made him who he was. If that's the same here he's going to be in a lot of trouble, especially given that he's not a fighter with particularly good defense.
Gaballo certainly has the potential to be a major player in the division. He has the power, the speed and the explosiveness to be a real danger man. Sadly though where not sure he has the experience, the seasoning or the polish to be that man at the moment. The Rodriguez fight showed a lot of issues with him, and he was lucky that Rodriguez, whilst a very good boxer, is not a puncher. Sadly for Gaballo, Donaire is a puncher, and Donaire won't try to fiddle his way to a victory. Instead he will time Gaballo, lure Gaballo into a mistake and detonate a thunderous left hook. When he does that Gaballo will feel it. He may withstand some, but sooner or later one will land too clean and will drop him. Donaire might not be the fighter he used to be, but he is still a clinical finisher and we can't see him letting Gaballo off the hook when he has him hurt. Especially knowing that Gaballo has so many defensive flaws.
This could be exciting early, but we only see it ending one way. An early win for Donaire.
Prediction - TKO4 Donaire
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.