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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

25 Feb 2011

When Nonito “The Filipino Flash” sent WBC/WBO world bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel crashing to the canvas following a brutal counter left hook that reminded us so much of the punch that left cocky Vic Darchinyan in a mental mess and bloodied ex champion Wladimir Sidorenko en route to a 4th round annihilation, our heart was filled with unbelievable pride and joy.

That’s because there appeared to be a couple of individuals hell-bent on wrecking his focus as he trained for the Montiel showdown with a series of articles that were essentially mean and whose intent was patently clear – to disturb Nonito mentally and to undermine his standing with Filipino boxing fans. It failed, as it deserved to.

Donaire is in many respects like Manny Pacquiao who was often the object of rumors and scandalous gossip which, like a true champion, Manny ignored and went about the task at hand with relentless determination.

In the end both Donaire and Pacquiao silenced their detractors and men and women with a streak of meanness in the only way they knew how – with sensational performances in the ring that filled the hearts of millions of Filipinos who believe in them.

What a few individuals cannot – or do not wish to comprehend - is that fight fans are essentially people who accept fighters the way they are and for what they are and look at the skills and their careers in the ring and refuse to bother with personal intrigues or cheap gossip.

Donaire showed us an amazing strength of will and an uncanny ability to rise above the muck-racking and to concentrate on the bigger task which was the long-dreamed-of title fight against the Mexican veteran Montiel who was a warrior in the finest tradition of Mexican fighters.

Nobody in his right mind should have sought to try and ruin Nonito’s focus before the fight with published trash about family squabbles. Those of us who know better keep such trash out of the public eye because the fight game doesn’t need it and certainly doesn’t thrive on it.

Nonito faced the same sort of situation that Manny faced a year or two ago and both of them with steadfast wives who stood by them through it all, emerged champions twice over and cast those who threw garbage right where they belonged – into the dustbin.

In Nonito Donaire we have a gem of a fighter, a young man with class and style and a fighter who has the decency and courage to concede that he is aiming to follow in the incredible footsteps of a hero of our time, Manny Pacquiao.

By this very act alone and his spectacular performance in the ring, Donaire has joined Pacquiao to give the Philippines not one, but two heroes. Our country and people with a rich tradition in boxing certainly deserve no less.

The nicest feeling is that there are many more talented, tough and courageous young men waiting at ringside, ready to step up and add to the glory. Truly, with Pacquiao and Donaire emerging as No.1 and No. 3 in the prestigious Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings the Philippines has taken its rightful place in the hearts and minds of boxing fans both at home and abroad. What a glorious feeling.

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