By Dwight Chittenden: IBF/WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (29-1, 18 KO’s) has his mind made up that his fight against former WBC lightweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KO’s) is a bout pitting the two best fighters at 122 going up against each other on October 13th at the Home Depot Center, in Carson, California, United States. What’s interesting is how different Donaire sees this fight compared to the average boxing fan who have seen Nishioka fight recently. To many of them, this is just another one of Donaire’s fight against a guy that isn’t on his level, and hardly a fight against the number #1 super bantamweight fighter in the division.
Nishioka may be seen that way in terms of ranking by the Ring Magazine, who have him as the #1 fighter in the super bantamweight division, but in reality the 36-year-old Nishioka doesn’t look to be the same fighter he once was. He’s definitely slowed down to where you can make an argument that he might not even be the 4th best fighter in the division. Right now, you’d have to say that Donaire is #1, Guillermo Rigondeaux #2, and Abner Mares #3. It’s a toss up between former WBO super bantamweight champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and Nishioka who the number #4 super bantamweight is. I personally see Vazquez Jr. as the better fighter at this point due to Nishioka’s aging.
Donaire said in an interview with Japanese Mobile “I see this fight as the number #1 [Nishioka], and the one who’s challenging the number #1 to become number #1 [Donaire]. To me, it’s the best fighter [Nishioka] against the best fighter to prove who is the best.”
I don’t see it that way. I see it as Donaire, who hasn’t proven he’s even the #2 fighter yet, fighting a guy that used to be the number #1 fighter at super bantamweight during a weak era for the division. When Nishioka was the WBC champ from 2009 to 2011, the super bantamweight division wasn’t that good. It’s now become very good with the addition of Rigondeaux, Donaire and Mares. So Nishika’s position as the tough guy is now very much in question because he never beat anyone as good as those guys, never. And Nishioka has plenty of losses on his resume from fighters that are arguably way inferior to Rigondeaux, Mares and Donaire.