Nonito Donaire Ends Superb Year with a Spectacular Knockout
In February 2011, Nonito Donaire knocked out Fernando Montiel with a second-round left hook. The impressive performance sent Donaire, who lives in San Leandro, shooting up the rankings, with some boxing observers naming him the third best figher in the world, behind Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Nonito Donaire had a great 2012.
The year 2011 was supposed to be the Filipino Flash's breakout year, the one when he rolled through his top rivals to cement his spot among the pantheon of active boxers. But it didn't happen. Because of a contract dispute with Top Rank promotions, Donaire went eight months before his next bout. His opponent, undefeated Omar Andres Narvaez, played defense much of that fight, and, after a few rounds of chasing, Donaire appeared satisfied taking home a unanimous decision. It was a boring fight. By the end, the Madison Square Garden crowd was booing the competitors. Donaire ended 2011 as a whisper. So when 2012 began, he had ground to make up. And he certainly fought like it.
Over the past 12 months, Donaire put together his best year as a pro, capping it off on Saturday with his most spectacular performance since February 2011. The victory, a fourth- round knock out against Jorge Arce (61-7-2), was Donaire's fourth win of 2012 and established him as the odd-on favorite for Fighter of the Year.
Saturday showcased Donaire at his finest -- bouncing around the ring, popping shots with his rangy arms, rushing in for lightning fast combinations, and punctuating his flurries with his always-frightening left hook.
Donaire knocked down the highly decorated Arce two times before the knock out. In the second round, he landed a one-two combo -- jab-straight right -- that sent Arce to the canvas. Then early in the third round he followed a right hand with a left uppercut that staggered Arce, who stumbled into the ropes.
The knock out punch, which came just before the end of the third round, landed flush on Arce's jaw. It was classic Donaire: a wide-swinging counter left hook with the speed of a whip and the power of a hammer. The referee ended the fight almost immediately after Arce hit the mat.
Arce, for his part, fought Donaire the way many of Donaire's opponents refuse to: He bravely stood toe to toe, trading blows. But Donaire was too fast -- his hand speed impossible to match, his footwork keeping him out of harm's way. And he was too strong, his thudding punches buckling Arce on several occasions.
It was a fitting way to end the year.
Over the course of 2012, Donaire improved with each fight. In February, he handily beat Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., taking a split decision in an unremarkable fight against a quality but over-matched opponent who seemed more focused on avoiding Donaire's left hook than landing any punches of his own. It was a similar story in July, when Donaire dominated Jeffrey Mathebula in a unanimous decision. In October, his next opponent, Toshiaki Nishioka, appeared to be following the same script as his previous ones. But Nishioka turned on his offense in the middle rounds and Donaire capitalized. He knocked him down twice before Nishioka's corner threw in the towel in the ninth.
Donaire may have some options for 2013. Many fans are fiending for a match-up against the 25-0 Aber Mares. Mares, though, is with Golden Boy promotions, and Top Rank and Golden Boy often have trouble making fights happen together. Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0 with 8 KOs) is another possibility. The two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba has looked sharp as hell since making his professional debut in 2009. Donaire also might decide to move up in weight, to the more lucrative divisions.