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Nonito Donaire says “I’m the Knockout Guy in This Fight”

Arne K. Lang

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Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire clash on Nov. 7 in suburban Tokyo at the Saitama Super Arena in the bantamweight finals of the World Boxing Super Series. At stake are WBA and IBF world title belts and the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy. Inoue, nicknamed “Monster,” is a heavy favorite.

Nonito Donaire, who turns 38 the week after the fight, has won world titles in four weight classes: 112, 118, 122, and 127. Some day in the future he will, almost assuredly, be enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. But – and although he has been stopped only once in 45 fights, that as a featherweight – hardly anyone likes his chances to stay upright on Nov. 7.

To say that Naoya Inoue has been impressive in his recent outings would be an understatement. His last three fights against title-holders Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, and Emmanuel Rodriguez lasted only six minutes and 21 seconds in the aggregate. None of the three had been stopped before. Payano and Rodriguez had never been dropped.

The noted Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain has been unstinting in his praise. “The pathology of his violence is exquisite,” said McGrain of Inoue in a story that ran on these pages. “He is a watching, waiting, learning doom-machine that appears to have been programmed by Carlos Zarate.” (Note: Zarate scored 63 knockouts in his 70-bout career.)

Inoue’s triumph over Payano, which took him all of 70 seconds, was feted by a cover story in The Ring magazine, making the baby-faced assassin the first Japanese fighter to appear on the magazine’s cover in the 119-year history of that august publication. If Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) can reprise the wow factor vs. Donaire, he will likely be named the 2019 Fighter of the Year in all the year-end polls – unless Andy Ruiz can repeat his upset of Anthony Joshua, in which case the voters will have a thorny dilemma.

Nonito Donaire, the Filipino Flash, is nonplussed. A pro since 2001, Donaire (40-5, 26 KOs) is confident that he can derail the Inoue Express.

“People seem to have forgotten that I have a knockout punch too,” says Donaire. “In my mind, if knockouts are going to be the theme of the promotion, I should get top billing.”

Indeed, he certainly does have a knockout punch. His brutal knockouts of Vic Darchinyan in 2007 and Fernando Montiel in 2011 were named Knockout of the Year by the aforementioned The Ring. And his knockout of late sub Stephon Young in his most recent start is a candidate for that honor again. In the sixth round of their fight in Lafayette, Louisiana, Donaire knocked Young out cold with a thunderous left hook.

Donaire may have gotten a break when his second-round opponent Zolani Tete was forced to withdraw with a shoulder injury, but it’s worth noting that he was the underdog going into this tournament. Top seed Ryan Burnett had his pick of the four unseeded entrants and chose Donaire, effectively making Donaire the eighth seed of an eight-man tournament.

Donaire could see the logic. The undefeated (19-0) Burnett, reportedly 94-4 as an amateur, was the younger man by almost 10 years. Donaire would be coming down in weight; almost seven years had elapsed since he had last fought as a bantamweight. His recent showings, he readily admitted, were lackluster. He was outpointed by Jessie Magdaleno and Carl Frampton in fights spaced 17 months apart. And finally, the fight would be in Glasgow, a regional site advantage for Burnett, an Irishman from Belfast.

In the fourth round, Burnett took a knee after apparently suffering a lower back injury after throwing a right hand. He retired on his stool after that round and was stretchered out of the ring. The conventional version is that he suffered a freak injury and Nonito is perfectly fine with that narrative. “People are entitled to their opinion,” he says nonchalantly.

Outside the ring, Donaire isn’t a fighter, but the same can’t be said for his manager who is insistent that Burnett’s injury was caused by a body punch and that Burnett was stretchered out of the ring to save face, thereby denying her husband his proper due.

Yes, Donaire’s manager happens to be the woman that he sleeps with, the mother of their two children, boys aged six and four. She’s not only his manager, but his strength and conditioning coach. “She pretty much runs everything,” says Donaire. “She’s 99 percent the boss.”

Nonito Donaire was born in the Philippines in the same town where Manny Pacquiao was born, the third youngest of four children. His parents left him and one of his siblings with his grandparents when they migrated to the United States, sending for them as soon as his father, a welder, could afford their passage. He arrived in the U.S. at the age of 10 and grew into adulthood in San Leandro, a community on the east side of the San Francisco Bay.

Donaire won his first title in 2007 with his explosive knockout of Darchinyan. Later that year, at a Bay Area club, he met Rachel Marcial, his future wife. She had spent five years in the U.S. Air Force and was a big name in the sport of Taekwondo, having won numerous military and civilian titles. Since 2011, their primary home has been in Las Vegas.

Rachel Marcial Donaire doesn’t fit the stereotype of a female prizefighter with a military background. In 2012, the pert Filipina-American was named the 38th sexiest woman on the planet in the Filipino edition of the popular international men’s magazine FHM in their annual listing of the 100 sexiest women in the world. As power couples in boxing go, Nonito and Rachel are the second-most “paparazzi-ed” in the Philippines, trailing only Senator Manny and Jinkee.

Rachel

Rachel (pictured on the far right beside her husband at a Tokyo press conference) believes her Air Force background was hugely advantageous in preparing her for her role as the boss of Team Donaire. “It helped me to be very good at having an attention to detail, not letting things slide. Especially with Nonito’s camp, we have become a very efficient team because of the way I was brought through in the military,” she told David Kelly, a writer for the Belfast Telegraph.

Beginning with his father, Nonito has had several boxing coaches over the years. For a time, he was with the Cuban globetrotter Ismael Salas. That didn’t work out and now he’s with old salt Kenny Adams who is perhaps best known as the head trainer of the 1988 U.S. Olympic boxing team that won eight medals in Seoul. Nonito’s relationship with his father has been rocky at times, but things are now copacetic and dad will be in the corner with Adams on Nov. 7.

Earlier this week, this reporter attended a workout by Donaire held behind a closed curtain at the City Boxing Club in Las Vegas. It was a vigorous workout with few dead moments that included a zesty sparring session with South African toughie DeeJay Kriel. Later that afternoon, Donaire had another workout scheduled at a park that involved exercises customized for him by Rachel, a certified fitness instructor. One doubts that even professional triathletes are as well-conditioned.

Team Donaire shifts its training camp to the Philippines on Oct. 18. (Tokyo is 16 hours ahead of Las Vegas but only one hour ahead of Manila, an important consideration.) Then it’s off to Japan for the bout that will be contested in that nation’s largest indoor stadium. The promoters, say Rachel, anticipate a crowd somewhat north of 20,000.

Regardless of the outcome, Donaire says he has no plans to retire any time soon. “This division (118) is where I belong,” he says. “It’s always where I felt most comfortable. I love boxing and I am very healthy.”

Inoue vs. Donaire will air live in North America on DAZN. The odds are skewed heavily in favor of the local guy, but it’s yet a very compelling fight.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel  

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

 

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