No More “Experimenting” for Nonito Donaire
by Corey T. Willinger on July 11, 2010

Nonito Donaire has, in the eyes of many, perfected the sweet science.
In stopping Hernan Marquez with a picture perfect left uppercut on Saturday night, he brought his winning streak to 23 in a row. Donaire hasn’t lost since the second fight of his career nine years ago.

There’s a reason for his spotless record, and it’s two-fold. First and foremost, Nonito is one of the most talented fighters in the world today.

At 27 years of age, Donaire may already be as good as he’s ever going to get. He’s tall for the weight classes he competes in and generally uses his height to his advantage by boxing from the outside. When his opponents go down on points and grow desperate, they take chances and thus make themselves susceptible to the power Nonito possesses in both hands. It’s a tried and true formula for winning fights.

Donaire is also in the prime of his career at the perfect time. His fellow countryman, Manny Pacquiao, who is larger than life in the Philippines, is eying retirement within a year or so, leaving the door open for Nonito to inherit the most passionate fan base in boxing today. That kind of backing, combined with his fan-friendly style and boyish charm, could quickly translate to pay-per-view dollars.

That’s why it’s so puzzling that Donaire hasn’t achieved the level of success most expected for him after he knocked out Vic Darchinyan in 2007. Rather than follow up on the big splash he made three years ago, Nonito has fought largely irrelevant competition – the other component to his squeaky clean record – and seems content to continue experimenting with his career.

That’s exactly what happened on Saturday night against Hernan Marquez: experimenting. And those are his own words. Leading up to the fight, Donaire announced his plans to “experiment” with a new style by fighting as a southpaw. Believing his left hand to be his most powerful anyway, the decision had some merit. And if he was committed to trying it, then Marquez was the right type of opponent to try it against.

But that still didn’t explain why Donaire was wasting his prime years on opponents that he could beat with his opposite hand in the first place. The event was billed as “The Challenge,” and had Donaire been the main event, it would have needed a new title. Once Nonito returned to his right-handed stance, Marquez was no challenge whatsoever.

Though he later revealed that he fought as a southpaw to mask an injury, Donaire came away from the situation looking like a kid who needed to mix things up just to stay interested. Fighting lesser opponents can do that to you. How many times did Roy Jones Jr. have to play games with his foes just to keep the audience – and maybe even himself – tuned in?

Nonito knows as well as any boxing pundit that there’s nothing to be gained by experimenting at this point in his career. It’s time to graduate to bigger challenges. And he will this Fall.

Inside Fights contributor Paul Magno wrote a piece back in February urging Donaire to earn his rank on pound-for-pound lists by fighting the best opponents in and around his division. And now that Nonito himself seems to agree that he needs to take his place among the best in boxing, his forthcoming move to bantamweight will show the caliber of fighter he is.

While the rematch with Darchinyan is the fight everyone has been calling for, an agreement has never been reached between the camps. And so Donaire now appears headed toward a showdown with WBC and WBO Bantamweight Champion Fernando Montiel of Mexico. Montiel, whose only losses have come against veterans Mark Johnson and Jhonny Gonzalez, is coming off a big win over Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa, which is far more impressive than anything Nonito has accomplished since 2007.

Like Donaire, Montiel is a tactician who prefers to break his opponents down with sound boxing rather than storm through them. But he packs a good punch as well. This could set up a tense chess match with Nonito, and a win would give Donaire instant respect in the division and among the sport as a whole. Montiel fights Rafael Concepcion this weekend, which would facilitate a fight with Donaire happening this fall should he win.

And should Montiel-Donaire land on the undercard of Pacquiao’s next fight, which is scheduled for November, Donaire could find himself on boxing’s big stage sooner than he may have anticipated – but well past due for those who have watched this talented young man over the years.

Remember, Nonito, the tassel is worth the hassle.

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Corey T. Willinger

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  • LuCas

    It seems that you’re faulting Donaire as to the level of boxers that he had beaten since knocking out Vic Darchinyan. It’s very clear that Nonito really wanted to fight the best in his division especially in 112 and 115. Now he wants to go up in order to fight the best. But even Montiel is not interested to fight him.

  • Kibitzer

    Check your facts:

    1. Donaire wants the best in his division BUT the [supposed to be] best fighters are not stepping up in the plate. You are faulting Donnaire for the cowardice of these boxers!
    2. Donaire wants a rematch with Darchinyan to finally shut Darchinyan’s BigMouth. Darchinyan chicken out. You’re faulting Donnaire again because Drachinyan is a Chicken.
    3. Donaire calls out the biggest names including Arce and Montiel. But they are not INTERESTED [subtle way of saying their AFRAID]. Again, you faulted Donaire because these boxers doestn’t want to trade leathers with HIM.


    Dig the sports archive…… push those lazy fingers to hit the keyboards…. come on, hurry, hurry, hurry up.

  • jin

    Yep Kibitzer is right mr. writer. Anyway nice read!

  • boxmeister

    Nonito Donaire is heir apparent to Manny Pacquiao and undoubtedly one of the most exciting fighters in this era. Nobody wants to fight him, so it is not his fault if he ended up fighting by experimentation. In a way, it is good for his honing up his skills. Montiel
    indicates he don’t want to face him. Could it be that boxers know he is formidable and they know they could lose to the Filipino Flash?

  • skywalker

    Please don’t forget that Donaire camp even made an offer to Morel as replacement but he also refused…

  • baklita

    donaire-montiel fight can be very exciting in a tactical manner. we need fighter like them to uphold the excitement of boxing sports.

    let donaire-montiel happen for their next fight. I totally agree!



  • Bruce Lee

    yeeeeeeh, We all agree, nice article.

  • bert

    does nonito have a say who he wants to fight? yes…the writer is saying that he may not able to fight vic, fernado arce or any other high rate boxer…the question is wqat in the world he continued to fight with the little guys? marquez is forced to gain weight to figth him…and he was soundly beaten in his last fight…remember chango vargas? the minimum weight challenger outpointed by donnie nietes…he gain weight to fight donaire after he was beaten by nietes!!! remember rafael concepcion? yes he is heavier but he was previously k.o by jorge arce then nonito! the point he does not need to fight the best…but atleast fight a rank fighter at his own weight or level…bottomline he does not deserved the spot at p4p…montiel should be higher! or even juanma lopez…nonito fight a better man next time!

  • skywalker

    same case goes to Marquez, he lost to Mepranum from his last fight because he had problem shredding to lower weight and according to his camp, 115 lbs is his ideal weight class…

  • delpilar

    nonito should stop doing a clinic while fighting. just knock them out son.

  • Cabby

    One writer blamed Kontz for letting the “unqualified” Concepcion fight JuanMa, sort of feeding him to a lion. Another said about the fault of Concepcion himself going “labo labo” hoping to land his haymaker. Hitting Kontz with financial ulterior motive despite knowing that Concepcion was not ready for it, is amazing. So, we have Nonito, who is an accomplished Pinoy boxer, yet somehow big fights that will make him big moolah eluded him for quite a while. We need more Kontzs to get big fights for Nonito. What I cannot understand is that even if we hear Buboy in Pacquiao’s corner, “In and out, in ant out, alis!” yet he did not/missed to let Concepcion do the same. The trainer in the corner has a lot to do with how the boxer does in the ring. I wonder if it was Garcia who told Nonito to drop the experimental left-handed stance. Hope the 4 rounds with Marquez gives Nonito a big lesson never again to experiment in the ring with an opponent ready to beat him up.

  • erwin

    you better ask bob arum why he woudn’t give him a better opponent, why he is not paying too much attention on donaire?

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