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Nonito Donaire Punches His Way to Stardom
“I don’t know about star yet,” Nontio Donaire said.
The 28-year-old Filipino-American fighter was trying to stay modest after a scintillating second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel to win both the WBO and WBC bantamweight world titles. While Donaire may not want to say it, he propelled himself to stardom with that punch. The boxing community is abuzz over that devastating left hook that sent Montiel to the canvas and fractured his cheek bone.
Where does this put him now? The exact number on the pound-for-pound list is up for debate, but many agree he is right up there with Sergio Martinez, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. In addition to his obvious power, quickness and speed, he also appears to have clairvoyance on his side.
“I was telling everybody second round and I said it,” Donaire said after the fight. “I told you second, right. I told a lot of people second round. It wasn’t to be cocky or anything, it was just to motivate myself.”
After Donaire won the first round, Montiel appeared to be getting a rhythm and was picking up the aggression in the second. Donaire says it was all according to plan.
“That’s why it seemed like I was losing that round, is because I was being attentive,” he said. “Where he was going to be, his movement, his body and where his head was going to be after he punches. When I figured out where exactly where he was going to be, I knew regardless if I close my eyes, he was going to be there as long as my punches were in that direction.”
Donaire calls it the hardest punch he has ever thrown in his life and his most memorable punch to date. That is saying something considering his career full of knockouts, including the fifth-round KO of heavily favored Vic Darchinyan in 2007 which first put him on the map.
To be a star, you cannot just be a great fighter. Donaire has a personality that draws people in. After the fight, he said he won it not just for himself, but for all the kids who had been bullied like him. Who can’t relate to that?
The pieces are here for him to continue his rise. As boxing searches for the next great heavyweight, it is guys like Donaire in the lighter divisions, along with Pacquiao, Mayweather and other rising stars like Timothy Bradley and Amir Khan that are breathing life into the sport.
“I don’t know about the star yet,” Donaire reiterated, “but I definitely believe I belong in that top pound-for-pound and I am the best bantamweight right now and this is just the beginning of it.”
It is indeed just the beginning, as the bantamweight division has several attractive potential opponents. There is also the possibility of moving up weight classes. Another piece to Donaire’s likability is his willingness to fight whoever wants to get in the ring with him.
“What’s next is anybody. “