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Nonito Donaire Aims To Keep

Posted on 12/09/2021

By: Sean Crose

He was, or at least seemed to be, on everyone’s pound for pound list. Then came Guillermo Rigondeaux. For on a New York night in 2013, at Radio City Music Hall, of all places, Nonito Donaire, one of the most highly regarded and popular fighters on earth, was successfully dismantled by slick chess player Rigondeaux. Just over a year and a half later, Donaire was stopped outright by Nicholas Walters. Two more losses came, to Maggie Magdaleno and Carl Frampton respectively. As the 2010’s wound down, it looked like Donaire, perhaps the most popular Filipino fighter this side of Manny Pacquiao, was a man on the way out.

Boxing, however, is a sport that’s full of surprises. Although he lost to next generation pound for pound great Naoya Inoue in late 2019, Donaire lost in style. So much style that people began to ask if perhaps, just perhaps, Donaire might be making a comeback of sorts. Then, this past May, Donaire beat Nordine Oubaali for the WBC bantamweight title. There was no more need for the word “perhaps.” Donaire had successfully turned his declining career around. Now Donaire will get to show – at least to some degree – just how long lasting his comeback is.

For on Saturday, at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, Donaire will defend his WBC belt against the undefeated, 24-0 Reymart Gaballo in a scheduled 12 round affair. Like Donaire, Gaballo is Filipino. Unlike Donaire, the 25 year old has never tasted defeat. He’s also quite the power puncher, having ended all but four of his fights within the distance. On the other hand, Gaballo hasn’t faced the kind of competition Donaire has. He also doesn’t have the overall experience of the defending champion. In a sense, Gaballo is in a no win situation. If he wins on Saturday, it will be argued be beat an over the hill champion. If he loses, then the chance of holding the WBC world title evaporates before his eyes.

As for Donaire, his legacy is now fully assured. Having a good run in the ring is impressive. Coming back and having a second good run is nearly unheard of. Donaire, of course, probably wants to keep plugging along. That’s only natural. The fighter can rest assured, however, that he’s already achieved more than all but the smallest percentage of boxers have. Sitting back and taking it easy, however, generally isn’t known to be a part of a fighter’s makeup.

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