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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Boxing News / If I Were a Boxing Matchmaker: Nonito Donaire

If I Were a Boxing Matchmaker: Nonito Donaire

Who would you match him with?
Japan's Naoya Inoue, right, gets a punch from Philippines' Nonito Donaire in the 11th round of their World Boxing Super Series bantamweight final match in Saitama, Japan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. Inoue beat Donaire with a unanimous decision to win the championship. (AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)

Howdy folks. Today I’d like to discuss some matchups for a potential future Hall of Famer.

Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire 40-6 (26 KOs)

Nonito Donaire is a true professional in every sense of the meaning. He is one of the most respectful and modest men in the sport. Yet, he is also one of the guys that you shouldn’t mistake his kindness for weakness. “The Filipino Flash” always brings everything he’s got to every match and still makes it a point to knock you on your ass if he can. Donaire reminds me of an old war horse, or the old farm truck that never dies. You expect them not to start, or saddle up for one more ride, then you go out to crank them over and with a few turns of the ignition and a large cloud of smoke, they’re ready to go.

Donaire is likely a future Hall of Fame boxer and rightfully so. The Flash has technically won titles at flyweight, super fly, bantamweight, super bantam and featherweight. I’m not trying to discredit his legitimacy as a great fighter, but these “titles” are so out of control that it’s nearly impossible to distinguish who the real champions are anymore. I don’t think his championship is legitimate at featherweight and definitely not the super fly. The bantam, super bantam and flyweight championships are more legit, but still questionable to an extent. The bad thing is that historians are somehow going to have to sift through this crap in order to make people understand what “greats” were really greats.

Regardless of some of the questions of the belts, Nonito Donaire is still a great fighter and we can all see why. Nonito is no longer at the peak of his career, but he is still performing at a very high level for a man of his age and especially at his weight. Donaire has fought numerous top-level contenders and champions in his days and has fared well against most of them. The first being a brutal TKO victory over former Flyweight Champion Vic Darchinyan in 2007. The next three TKO victories were over top-10 rated Luis Maldonado, Moruti Mthalane (current flyweight belt-holder) and Raul Martinez. Then, a few fights later, he stepped up to take out former bantamweight king Fernando Montiel and then defended that crown with a UD over Omar Narvaez. Donaire decided to try out his luck and succeeded with four consecutive wins at super bantamweight against Wilfredo Vasquez, Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce before being derailed by super bantam kingpin Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Vic Darchinyan stepped back in for a second try and Donaire repeated with a stoppage win. His attempt at featherweight was rough, having a close decision win over Simpiwe Vetyeka and a TKO loss to Nicholas Walters. After the Walters loss, he reeled off a couple decent wins against Zsolt Bedak and a freak accident win over Ryan Burnett, yet had a few losses in between against some solid contenders, like Jessie Magdaleno and Carl Frampton. Frampton is certainly at the tail end of his illustrious career, but the way Donaire battled it out with the bantamweight beast Naoya Inoue, I’m not sure he is quite ready to give in.

If he says that’s it, then I think we can all appreciate everything he has done for the sport and respect the choice at this given moment. If he decides to keep it going, he can always be a hassle for anybody at any time. Especially considering the power he brings to the table and his crafty veteran boxing abilities. The hourglass is running out however, so let’s see what the best routes for him would be.

#1 Matchup: Nordine Oubaali 17-0 (12 KOs)

Nordine Oubaali is a crafty boxer, who has a wide variety of attributes. His amateur pedigree certainly has been a big benefit in his professional career. He moves well, mixes up his punches good and has sufficient enough power to keep you honest. Naturally he moves forward, which would be a good thing for Donaire. However, Oubaali is still a boxer who has a nice sense of range and utilizes his combination punches effectively. So, although Donaire would have a better chance if Oubaali moves forward, I’m not sure Nonito would actually be able to counter Oubaali as easily as he might think. It would definitely be a challenge that would make for a very interesting chess match. Yet, keep in mind that Oubaali did get his legs stiffened a little in his last match with Takuma Inoue whom only has 3 KOs in 13 wins. If Donaire gets a clean lick on Oubaali, I’m not sure he survives the way he did against Inoue. Both men are top-5 rated bantamweights and Oubaali currently holds the WBC belt. This would be suitable in France, New York, California, Las Vegas, or maybe even a neutral spot in Europe somewhere.

#2 Matchup: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai 47-5-1 (41 KOs)

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is a premium fighter near these lower weight classes. He has proven his worth as a super flyweight fighter and I have heard in the past that he has considered moving up to bantamweight. In that case, it would be nice to see him and Juan Estrada hash out their problems at 115 first, then one or both of them can move up to try out another weight division. If Rungvisai were going to move up, this would be a great match for both of them.

Donaire has a significant height advantage and would need to utilize it. If Donaire can set some traps for Rungvisai, he might be able to lay him out with a big counter punch. However, Srisaket usually has his hands pinned up high and the opportunity might be tough for Donaire. I can’t say for sure if Sor Rungvisai has enough power to get Donaire out of there, but the fans would sure love to find out. Whoever wins would be in line for a big payday at 118. This would be great in Asia somewhere, considering the ties to the Philippines and Thailand, however this could also go good in Las Vegas, or California.

#3 Matchup: Juan Francisco Estrada 40-3 (27 KOs)

Juan Francisco Estrada is an excellent boxer who has the complete skill-set to defeat almost anybody around these weight classes. Estrada is the Super Flyweight Champion right now and there are many guys I would love to see him in against. I’m not saying Nonito Donaire would be my first choice, but there are several reasons why it would make a lot of sense. Some of the biggest reasons would be that, if Estrada decides he would rather move up a weight class, which has been rumored before, I think this would be a great introduction to the division. However, if Donaire would like to try to erase any questions about whether he was a real champion at 115, this would be a perfect solution. Either way, 3 pounds isn’t really a problem for either man, but probably more so for Donaire.

Estrada would need to box from distance and try to bait Donaire in. Donaire is best to try and box also and bait Estrada in instead. I have a feeling Donaire would be more willing to eat the bait. If Estrada won, he would put himself in line for some big showdowns against guys like Inoue, Nery, even Rungvisai again at 118. If Donaire can pull the upset, he would stay in line for a shot against the belt-holders at 115, 118 or possibly 122. This would go great in California, or Las Vegas.

#4 Matchup: Daniel Roman 27-2-1 (10 KOs)

Daniel Roman is a solid fighter who is a top-3 super bantamweight. Roman currently holds the IBF and WBA belts at 122, which would be an opportunity for Donaire to snag those, while hoping to get a fight for the lineal championship. Regardless of Roman’s weight advantage, Danny does not have big power, so I can’t foresee him stopping Nonito, unless he is just completely washed. He would most likely have to win on the scorecards.

Nonito has the height advantage, so he would want to box Roman from the outside and setup his counter punching. Danny would need to keep the pressure on and keep his hands moving. This could be a very interesting styles matchup that could keep your eyes glued. This can be set up in California, or Las Vegas. I could also see it landing in Asia somewhere, as Roman seems more willing than most to travel.

#5 Matchup: Joseph Agbeko 36-5 (26 KOs)

Joseph Agbeko is a match that could have happened several years ago when they were both a bit younger. Both men were top tier bantamweights around the same time frame as each other, but they never ended up meeting for a showdown. Neither man is the same as they were 8 to 10 years ago, but they are both solid competitors and this can still turn out to be a good bout. Agbeko is currently on a 7-fight win streak since his last defeat to Guillermo Rigondeaux back in 2013. Oddly enough, Rigo defeated these men in back to back bouts back in 2013.

This would be a great opportunity for Agbeko to get his name back in the ranking boards and it would also be a great opportunity for both to settle an old score. This would be more relevant if Donaire were to lose to another top contender or belt-holder, or if he wanted to just sign off for one last match to end his career. This could land in Asia or Las Vegas. Another match to keep in mind could be Carlos Cuadras. I just wanted to throw another name in there as a nice addition.

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