Nonito Donaire KOs Toshiaki Nishioka to Cap Another Dominant Performance

Categories: Sports
Nonito Donaire remains the top 122-pound fighter.
The first five rounds of Nonito Donaire's fight against Toshiaki Nishioka Saturday night looked very familiar. We'd already seen this same episode three straight times: Donaire's opponents playing it conservatively, backing up and surviving, right hand high and unmoving to guard against the Filipino Flash's vicious left hook.

During those first five rounds, Nishioka, a former WBC super bantamweight champ who'd won his last 16 fights, landed 19 punches, according to CompuBox. Donaire landed 62.

Then, two minutes into the sixth, Donaire (30-1) dropped Nishioka (39-5-3) with a left uppercut. Three rounds later, Donaire sent him back to the canvas with a straight right, and Nishioka's corner threw in the towel.

See also: Nonito Donaire Earns Another Title With Unanimous Decision Win Over Jeffrey Mathebula

These days Donaire's main competition isn't anybody in the 122-pound class (other than maybe 11-0 Cuban star Guillermo Rigondeaux), but Andre Ward and Sergio Martinez, in the race to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings. Those two are weeks removed from impressive victories. Donaire, in contrast, was coming off three forgettable wins -- dominant decisions, in which Donaire's accomplished but overmatched opponents avoided action, seemingly satisfied to just reach the final bell on their feet.

Donaire, who lives in San Leandro, is a boxer-puncher with rangy jabs, fast hands, and the best left hook in the division. After he knocked out Fernando Montiel in the second round in February 2011, he shot up to the third spot on many pound-for-pound lists (behind Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather). But he also showed prospective opponents how dangerous he can be when his hands are flying.

So, over his next three fights, Donaire's opponents did all they could to turn the bouts into defensive struggles, hoping that a frustrated Donaire would recklessly force the action, make a mistake, and leave himself open for a tide-turning counter. Donaire didn't bite, preferring to cruise to the easy victories.

It seemed Nishioka would follow this same game plan. Donaire would march in, with a lead jab, occasionally connecting three-punch flurries to the head. And Nishioka would dance around the ring, more focused on sidestepping punches than throwing his own.

But the 36-year-old with 24 knockouts on his résumé, apparently sensing the futility of his tactics, opened up his attack near the end of the fifth, catching Donaire on a few jabs and hooks.

It was an admirable choice, but it also played right into Donaire's strength. Donaire connected on the sixth-round uppercut as Nishioka bull-rushed, his gloves guarding for hooks and leaving the middle of his chin unprotected.

In the tenth, with Donaire back against the ropes, Nishioka landed a two-punch combo, then followed with a body shot. As he cocked back his right hand, Donaire simply beat him to the punch. Donaire's right was twice as fast, flashing out of a flat-footed defensive posture, and hitting Nishioka square on he face, a cannon ball blasting from his long arm.

When Nishioka got back on his feet, Donaire pounced, unleashing a left uppercut. Noshioka's trainer leaped on to the ring apron and the referee stopped the fight for a ninth round TKO.

The win was decisive, keeping pace with Ward's and Martinez's. Donaire controlled each round and Nishioka didn't land any significant shots. In all, Donaire connected on 111 power punches to Nishioka's 26. It was Donaire's 29th consecutive victory.

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