By: Sean Crose
A rejuvenated Nonito Donaire returns to the ring Saturday night with a scheduled 12 round defense of the WBC bantamweight tile he won from Nordine Oubaali last May. The 41-6 Donaire’s opponent will be undefeated fellow Filipino, Reymart Gaballo, 24-0. Gaballo’s last opponent was the very game Emmanuel Rodriguez, who Gaballo bested last December, though some feel it was Rodriguez who should have gotten the judges’ nod.
Yet unlike Donaire, the 25 year old Gaballo 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, he 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 no matter what happens on Saturday. The nearly forty year old looked like a fighter on the way out a few short years ago. 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 seriously wonder if Donaire might be making a comeback of sorts. Then, this past May, Donaire beat Oubaali for the WBC belt, and there was no longer any question as to whether or not the man was back.
It should be added that Donaire looks to be favored walking in this weekend. Then again, this is boxing.
The undefeated 18-0 welterweight Kudratillo Abdukakhorov will also appear on Saturday’s card as he face faces the 19-0 Cody Crowley in a scheduled 10 rounder. Abukakhorov was last seen retiring Javier Flores in March. Crowley was last spotted in the ring in September when he decisioned Josh Torres. Junior welterweights Brandun Lee and Juan Heraldez will be doing battle Saturday night as well, as they clash in a scheduled 10 rounder. The 23-0 Lee was last in the ring in August when he dusted Ezequiel Victor Fernandez in the first round, while the 16-1-1 Heraldez was last spotted being stopped by Regis Prograis in October of 2020.
The Donaire-Gaballo card will go down at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. It will be aired live on Showtime starting at 10 PM eastern time Saturday.
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