Donaire, Prograis Look To Win WBSS Semifinal Matchups
By: Sean Crose
Although he won’t be facing WBO bantamweight champ Zolani Tete as had been planned, the 36 year old Nonito Donaire will still be fighting this Saturday night in Lafayette, Lousiana. Donaire, 35-5, will be putting his WBA super world bantamweight and WBC diamond bantamweight titles on the line against Missouri’s 18-1-3 Stephon Young as part of the World Boxing Super Series’ bantamweight semifinals. The battle will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service. Tete, 28-3, of South Africa hurt himself in the leadup to a scheduled match with Donaire, which brought about the need for a replacement. Young, who last fought in October of 2018, proved ready to step in.
Donaire was one of the brightest lights in boxing not all that long ago. Since suffering a one sided defeat at the gloved hands of slickster Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2013 at Madison Square Garden, though, the fighter has come up short on numerous ooccasions. Nicholas Walters, Jessie Magdalano and Carl Frampton have all gotten the best of the Filipino-American since his loss to Rigondeaux. Last November, however, Donaire rose to the occasion and bested Northern Ireland’s Ryan Burnett in Scotland. Should Donaire end up going on to win the WBSS, his slump may well be permanently seen as nothing more than the low point of a fairly brilliant career.
Saturday’s DAZN card will also feature Lousiana’s own Regis Prograis, as he defends his WBC diamond super lightweight title against Kiryl Relikh as part of the WBSS super lightweight semifinals. Prograis, 23-0, has been riding high since stopping former titlist Julius Indongo in 2018, and plans on steaming along until he earns the Super Series’ Muhammad Ali trophy. Like Donaire, Prograis will join Oleksandr Usyk, and Callum Smith, should he emerge victorious in the WBSS. Both Usyk, and Smith have seen their marquee value rise considerably as past winners.
First, though, both Prograis and Donaire must get past Saturday. Young may not be well known, but he’s got the chance of a lifetime before him. He’s also lost a single fight, making his resume a bit easy to overlook in this era of worship for perfect records. As for Relikh, the native of Belarus has a quality name on his resume: Rances Barthylemy. Although losing the first of their two matches, Relikh won the rematch, and won the WBA world super lightweight title in the process.