In the main event of a Top Rank pay-per-view card at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nonito Donaire continues to mark time by facing limited Rafael Concepcion for an interim junior bantamweight WPLJ gewgaw. Concepcion is ineligible to win the trinket after failing to make the weight limit by 4 ½ pounds. Donaire, who will be moving up a half-division from flyweight for this bout, has not done much to capitalize on his spectacular KO of Vic Darchinyan in 2007 and this bout appears to fit in nicely with his current holding pattern.
Concepcion, 13-3-1 (8), appears to be wildly overmatched against the talented sharpshooter Donaire. Fast hands, fine boxing skills, and pop in either hand make Donaire, 21-1 (14), tough going for any quality fighter from 112-118 pounds. The question here is whether Concepcion falls under the category of “quality.” Probably not. Concepcion is a double tough brawler, honest and earnest, no doubt, but he is going from the basement and to the penthouse Saturday night and has no idea how to tie a Windsor knot.
His upset win over AJ Banal in 2008, however, showed how far courage and determination can take a fighter. Concepcion bored in furiously and eventually overwhelmed his more skilled opponent. He has a potent left hook and works the body in the clinches with something like a religious fervor. Unfortunately, he will be a facing a fighter with far too much class for him to maul. Donaire looked brilliant playing wrecking ball to the undefeated record of Raul Martinez in April, scoring four knockdowns en route to a 4th round TKO.
That Concepcion, 27, failed to make the junior bantamweight limit is no surprise. After losing his title to shaky Jorge Arce in a spectacular fracas last September, Concepcion retuned to the ring weighing 127 pounds for his next fight. Against mummified Kermin Guardia in February, Concepcion weighed in at 120 pounds. If he drained himself to get down to 119 1/2 pounds, as his team claims, then the task ahead of him will be even more arduous.
Donaire should handle Concepcion with ease, stopping the rugged Panamanian some time during the later rounds.