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Boxing Insight: Should Nonito Donaire Jr. Retire?


PhilBoxing.com




The legs are the first to go -- I remember reading this in a Bernard Hopkins interview some years ago, while on his way to become the oldest boxer to win a world championship, when prizefighters are over the hill. I thought about that Hopkins statement whenever Naoya Inoue, a shorter competitor than Donaire, would patter to the contender’s right to neutralize his sensational left hook and get away from the supposedly quicker, dazzling Donaire we knew, who is now a shade slower to cut along.

But Inoue could not just step in at will to clobber Donaire, who is ten years his senior, for the Filipino Flash isn’t shot. The greats among aging fighters know how to adapt to their changing bodies and tend to lean on their power more, out of necessity, and precision punching, to save on their dwindling energy.

Naoya Inoue, the young champion, known for his monstrous aggression, seriously tested his challenger for the first time in the second round and blood instantly dripped over his right eye. It was a brusque left hook that clipped the surging Japanese who found himself retreating with chock full of surprises. The undertow of the older Donaire whom many have not given much of a chance in this contest rose up to a dominating high. But maybe his legs weren’t quick enough to get him where he could close it out, the opportunity slipped away in an imperceptible span of time in the middle of hard action. The round ended with reprieve, followed by crucial moments of rest where the young is quicker to recover.

So we know now that Nonito Donaire Jr.’s power had not been diffused from his dukes, still intact like a dug up bomb in a vacant field from the time of the Great War might be lethal. Any raging young gun from the bantamweight division is welcome to look into this and risk fracturing one’s eye socket as Inoue had; then there were hefty rounds to fulfill with a broken nose where streams of blood and regret flow.

Nonito Donaire Jr. makes up for what dram of swiftness he has lost over the years by employing more head movement that’s proven unsustained, but not graceless. Then there’s the highly improved right-straight punch that rocked Inoue in the later rounds, the same one he used against Nishioka after shoveling in an uppercut, and later on with his back against the ropes, which he unfortunately failed to capitalize on again this time around; opportunities that are harder to come by for older warriors in action, where more effort needs to be exhausted for movements that used to be performed effortlessly with automaton knees, snappy and flexible joints and muscles, and keen mental faculties.

Inviting Inoue to step in by lowering his left arm (that should be ready to transform into a terrifying left hook once the opponent bites the bait), Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. is still a beauty to watch shooting straight from the shoulder. Then he forgets to move his head and gets some himself.

He substitutes a young man’s reflexes with anticipation, but eats more leather than his corner would like to see. He gets clobbered in the late rounds with a succession of murderous right crosses, perhaps punch drunk, until his experience guides him through the web of Inoue’s pressure towards safer ground. Years ago, in his prime, he would have taken it as a ripe moment to effectively counter punch, let alone produce a sensational knockout for his fans to gloat over after every replay on the tube.

At times they would fully engage, at loggerheads for the championship title, and we lose count of the punches thrown, carried away by our spiked emotions, only to ask, “When will Nonito retire?” at the end of every exchange. Perhaps like Manny Pacquiao, we have seen these two great warriors compete long enough, sacrifice so much and pine, so we have learned to love them more than we care to be entertained in no less than a bloodbath, that lopsidedly, mercilessly favors the young.


Mark F. Villanueva
Email: markfvillanueva@gmail
Twitter: @Mark Villanueva


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Mark F. Villanueva.


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