Nonito Donaire—To Whom Much Is Given Much Is Expected

By Teron Briggs on July 7, 2012
Nonito Donaire—To Whom Much Is Given Much Is Expected
Is he the top of the hit parade? Welcome to Nonito Donaire’s world. (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

Top Rank has already started talking about future match-ups. Donaire needs to first not only beat Jeffrey Mathebula, but also do so in impressive fashion…

When well-respected boxing manager Cameron Dunkin refers to you as “pound-for-pound, maybe the best fighter in the world,” it’s safe to say that expectations for your career are high. Welcome to Nonito Donaire’s world.

On Saturday night from the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA, Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs), the WBO junior featherweight champion, will take his first step towards unifying the division when he faces IBF champion, Jeffery Mathebula (26-3, 14 KOs).

In his debut fight on HBO in February of last year Donaire, who goes by the moniker “Filipino Flash,” scored the ESPN knockout of the year when he stretched out bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel (44-2, 35 KOs) in the second round. “Nobody else comes close to Pacquaio, Mayweather and Donaire,” HBO analyst Roy Jones Jr. said following the chilling knockout. Unfortunately, Donaire’s lackluster performances in his two subsequent fights have many questioning whether the experts were a bit premature in lavishing that kind of praise.

When a fighter can be heard telling his corner that he’s bored during a bout, it’s unlikely anyone watching it is having fun either. That’s what Donaire told his trainer in the 11th round of his disappointing decision win over Omar Narvaez (35-0, 19 KOs) in October of last year. Though most people placed the blame on Narvaez, who seemed to think he could win by simply keeping his guard up and staring intently at his opponent, the Filipino Flash failed to put on a show. In his next outing, he moved up in weight to challenge for the vacant WBO belt, against the lightly regarded Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. (21-1, 18 KOs). “Vasquez was tougher than I expected,” Donaire said after he was awarded a split-decision win against Vasquez. Vasquez had been knocked out in the 12th round of a title challenge a year earlier.

The athletic Donaire who stands at 5’5½ was always taller and stronger than his foes in the bantam and flyweight divisions. His promotional company, Top Rank, thought he would be able to seamlessly make the transition to the higher weight classes, possibly moving up as many as four or five divisions. Surprisingly though, against Vasquez Donaire’s vaunted power seemed to have little effect. This Saturday he will be facing a career bantamweight in IBF titleholder Mathebula, who is close to 6 feet tall.

“Let him try and come and I will do my thing,” the IBF titleholder Mathebula said about his shorter opponent, whom he expects to try to come forward and attack him. Little is known about Mathebula because this will be his first fight in America and only his second outside his native South Africa. He was a decorated amateur fighter, who competed at the 2000 Olympics and has faced one notable opponent in his career, former champion Celestino Caballero (32-2, 23 KOs). Mathebula lost a somewhat controversial split-decision in that title fight in 2009 in Caballero’s hometown of Panama.

Top Rank has already started talking about future match-ups with Mexican star Jorge Arce, former titleholder Toshiaki Nishioka and fellow champion Guillermo Rigondeaux. Before he can face any of them, Donaire needs to first not only beat Jeffrey Mathebula, but also do so in impressive fashion.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Nonito Donaire vs Jeffrey Mathebula (Donaire Workouts/Training)



HBO Boxing: Fernando Montiel vs. Nonito Donaire Highlights (HBO)



Nonito Donaire v. Omar Narvaez



Donaire vs Vasquez Jr Full Fight Highlight(2-4-2012)



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  1. mma 08:01pm, 07/07/2012

    I’m watching the fight tonight and couldn’t help to get on the computer and comment about it.  What a mismatch. Nonito looks like Mike Tyson at times in the fight.  I’m not sure how Matebula got a boxing title.  I guess this would boost Nonito’s ego but this is not really competition for him.  I thought I was going to watch a better fight..

  2. Don from Prov 08:32am, 07/06/2012

    Donaire was one of my favorite young fighters when I first saw him a few years ago.  Whether he’s come to rely on his power too much, is in thrall of the modern “as many divisions as possible” disease, or has just stopped growing and learning, he no longer seems to have quite as much potential (IMO).

  3. BK DON 07:49am, 07/06/2012

    Hmmm….I don’t know how easy it’s going to be Joe. Nonito hasn’t looked quite as impressive since he’s moved up in weight and this guy is almost a complete unknown.  The fact that he went 12 rds w/celestino and fought well, when celestino was fighting a high level, should mean that he’s a credible foe. It will be interesting to see if the flash can stop him.

  4. Joe 05:46am, 07/06/2012

    Easy fight Saturday night.  This young man is a very very good fighter - he’s going to be an HBO fighter for a looooooong time.  *And he has a super hot wife. 

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