By Chris Cella
Despite the consistent success Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire has found in the ring throughout his career, this Saturday’s test against 122-pound champion Toshiaki “Speed King” Nishioka at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, can not only establish the multi-divisional champion’s legacy as one of the greatest junior featherweight’s in history, but can also show the boxing world that the Donaire of ‘old’ is back.
Over his last three victories Donaire has scored two unanimous decisions and one split decision, and although the Fil-Am star looked impressive in each outing, the talks surrounding his performance were focused on his inability to close out the fights.
One of the main reasons for this was due in part to his sensational second round knockout win over Fernando Montiel in 2011 and another is that Donaire has won by way of knockout in 18 of his 29 professional victories. In a sport where it is not about what have you done, but what have you done lately, there has been speculation that Donaire has lost a bit of the ‘bang’ he once carried between the ropes.
“We have been fighting the fights and getting the victories and I think that’s what counts most,” Donaire said in in a recent pre-fight press conference in regards to going the distance his past three fights.
“These guys I have been fighting are world champions and they are at the top of their game. Sometimes you don’t get the results that people look for. People expect a lot from me. We have been trying to change things up to get different results. Against Nishioka we can’t let our guard down and going back to the old Nonito Donaire style of fighting smart.”
If fans are hoping that this fight Saturday night is the breakthrough performance in which Donaire will get back to his knockout ways, they may be disappointed. Nishioka has not been stopped since 1995, when he fought in only his second professional fight.
But when you combine the speed and power Donaire possesses with his exceptional counter-punching ability, anything is possible. The 29-year-old star has commented that he and his team have a specific game plan in mind going into the fight, and are confident that if executed properly they will come out victorious.
“We are mentally and physically prepared for this big fight,” said Donaire. “One thing he (Nishioka) will try to do is land the straight that is difficult to do against me. Aside from that, I haven’t seen any tape that he can do damage with. He did great against [Rafael] Marquez, but Marquez is a lot slower than me. A lot of those punches won’t land with me with power.”
The veteran super bantamweight southpaw Nishioka has nothing to lose as he steps between the ropes against Donaire. Coming in an underdog, the Asian star has the tools and experience to play spoiler in Donaire’s quest to solidify his place as one of the best 122 pounders of all time.
“Nishioka has power and he knows how to set it up,” said Donaire. He’s a veteran and knows the tricks that can frustrate a fighter – that’s what we don’t want to fall into. We have a great game plan and we are ready for whatever it is.”
Without looking past Nishioka, Donaire has also shared that going forward within the next year he and his camp have discussed moving up to 126 pounds, although nothing is set.
[This Saturday’s 122-pound title unification bout between WBO/ IBF super bantamweight Champion Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire and the WBC Diamond Belt champion Toshiaki “Speed King” Nishioka can be seen live on HBO at 10 p.m. Eastern.]