Can “The Filipino Flash” Reign Again? Nonito Donaire To Fight For Inoue’s Vacated WBC Bantamweight Belt

02/17/2023 - By James Slater - Comments

The age of 40 is considerably advanced for any fighter. Let alone a lower weight boxer such as a bantamweight. Let alone a fighter who has achieved so much and has been punching for pay since way back in 2001. This is Nonito Donaire, the former multi-weight champion with the 42-7(28) record – and the Filipino great is soon to get a chance to rule the world all over again.

Donaire, who has won world titles at flyweight, bantamweight, super-bantamweight, and featherweight, will face Mexico’s Alejandro Santiago for the WBC bantamweight belt former two-time foe Naoya Inoue vacated. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed the news when speaking with ESPN Knockout.

With this fight, Donaire will have another chance to not only reign as a world champion again but to make history again. It was back in May of 2021 when Donaire, with his KO win over Nordine Oubaali that saw him take the WBC belt at 118 pounds, became the oldest bantamweight champion in boxing history. Donaire was 38 then, now, he sets out to break his own record and become champion at age 40. Can Donaire do it?

“The Filipino Flash” has not fought since June of last year when he was brutally taken apart by “Monster” Inoue in just two rounds. Who knows how much that short but pretty savage beating took out of Nonito? Prior to his rematch with Inoue – who Donaire had pushed hard for all 12 rounds in their first fight, this back in November of 2019 –, Nonito had scored the KO win over Oubaali, followed by another stoppage win, this one over Reymart Gaballo.

Maybe Donaire has a decent amount left to offer, and maybe it was just the sheer power of Inoue that gave Donaire such a tough time in his last fight. Stopped just twice in his long career, it could be that Donaire either hangs with or defeats any other bantamweight out there.

Mexico’s Santiago, 27-3-5(14) is significantly younger than Donaire at age 27, while he has never been stopped. Winner of his last three following a November 2021 majority decision loss to Gary Antonio Russell, “Peque” boxed a draw with Jerwin Ancajas for the IBF super flyweight title back in September 2018. Santiago will be looking to become a world champion for the second time of asking in the Donaire fight.

An interesting fight for a number of reasons – will youth be served, or has Donaire got some tricks let up his sleeve? – this one is a tough fight to call.