How incredible a fighter is Nonito Donaire? How incredible an “old” fighter is Nonito Donaire? At age 39, after a long pro career (Donaire went pro almost 22 years ago!), Donaire – a four-division champion – is still improving his game and he is still scoring impressive KO’s – over guys so much younger than himself, at that. And Donaire is still hungry for new challenges. This past Saturday, Donaire may well have thrown himself into the mix for KO of the Year award winner, this courtesy of his body shot KO of the much younger and previously unbeaten Reymart Gaballo.
“The Filipino Flash” showed us all he still has exquisite timing, great speed and crippling power. It’s amazing to think how plenty of us felt, back in 2018, that Donaire was close to done. A loss to Carl Frampton made some of us think Donaire might hang ’em up, but in reality it was the weight (featherweight) that proved too much for Nonito. Now back down to his natural, best weight of 118 pounds – where he has won his last two fights, both by KO – Donaire has looked nothing short of sensational; even more so when we factor in his age.
So what next for this future Hall of Famer? Donaire, 42-6(28) says he would like to drop down to 115 pounds and win a world title there, while he also has revenge on his mind. It was back in November of 2019 when Donaire met “Monster” Naoya Inoue in an IBF/WBA bantamweight showdown. The fight was great, and punishing for both men. Donaire pushed Inoue hard but he lost a wide decision. Plenty of us felt at the time that this fight might prove to be the Filipino’s swansong. Instead, Donaire came back and took out Nordine Oubaali to win the WBC bantamweight belt.
Now Donaire wants Inoue again.
Donaire says he has learnt from the mistakes he made in the Inoue battle and that he will make adjustments in a return fight. It’s amazing that a 39 year old fighter is still adding wrinkles to his game, and perhaps landing better punches than before, but Donaire is doing it. As great as Inoue-Donaire I was, we’d all welcome a sequel. And though Inoue would likely be a significant favourite to win, as he was ahead of the first fight, the way Donaire has looked so good, so fresh, so dangerous in his last two fights, who knows?
Inoue has had a disappointing 2021, beating big underdog Michael Dasmarinas in June and now going in with gargantuan underdog Aran Dipaen this week (Tuesday in Japan). A 2022 return with Donaire would go a big way towards making up for what has basically been a sleeper year for Inoue.
Donaire wants the rematch, he feels new promoter Richard Schaefer can make the fight happen, and we all sure as heck want to see it. How much more amazing stuff has the amazing Nonito Donaire got left to surprise us with before his great career finally reaches its end?