Can Nonito Donaire Regain His Pound-for-Pound Status?

Donaire - Chris Farina
Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank

Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (32- 2, 21 KOs) has reached a lull in his career. The daunting question that now faces the once No. 5 ranked pound-for-pound boxer in the world is will he be able to regain his status?

It seemed that Donaire was on top of the world as a crafty knockout artist until it all came crumbling down on April 13, 2013.

On that night, Donaire faced off with Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux (12- 0, 8 Kos) for an epic event that shocked the boxing world.

The underestimated Rigondeaux shined bright under the lights of Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY—sucking  the life out of Donaire as each round passed.

Donaire lost his WBO and The Ring Super Bantamweight titles to Rigondeaux via a 12-round unanimous decision.

In a post-fight interview with Max Kellerman, Donaire stated, “I got too carried away. I wanted to take him out so bad. I fell in love with that.”

Donaire went on to disclose to his fans that he was in need of shoulder surgery, implying that this too may have been a factor resulting in the fights outcome.

What many viewed as excuses revealed relevance a short time later.

Donaire did undergo surgery in the summer of 2013, posting images of himself on social media while in the recovery room after the surgery was complete. Donaire also took time off to bond with his newly born son.

What seemed like a lengthy and legitimate break left boxing fans to question what the future held for Donaire. One of the biggest questions was if Donaire would be able to mentally bounce back to be the great fighter he was once known as.

After several months of waiting, fans were able to see Donaire back in action on November 9, 2013 when Donaire entered the ring to face Vic Darchinyan (39-5- 1, 28 KOs) in a long-awaited rematch.

Donaire’s performance was less than impressive.

Donaire Darchinyan
Photo by Porfirio Barron Jr./Round By Round Boxing

It appeared that Donaire—who is known for his great speed and timing—was struggling throughout the match.

Donaire did not appear confident in his ability to attack Darchinyan as he fought the majority of the rounds from the outside, displaying a more cautious approach.

Donaire—who was losing on at least two of the judge’s score cards going into the ninth round—managed to rise to the occasion.

The Filipino Flash landed a left hook followed by a series of punches resulting in referee Laurence Cole stopping the fight.

Immediately following the stoppage win, Donaire told Max Kellerman in a post-fight interview that he felt that Darchinyan may have broken his cheek.

When asked to name his next desired opponent, Donaire made it clear that there was only one name he wanted—Guillermo Rigondeaux.

So where does that leave Donaire on his quest to gain back all that seems to have been lost in the recent months?

Many critics and fans seem to have little faith in Donaire at this point with some saying that he never was as great as people anointed him as being.

In breaking down some critics’ recent statements—and comparing them to Donaire’s proven history—it would be fair to say that those statements are simply premature.

When did one loss become the deciding factor in solidifying a boxer’s career status?

Donaire_Rigondeaux - Chris Farina

Donaire’a track record alone shows that he is more than a well groomed boxer. Instead, he has proven to be an explosive terror of talent inside the ring.

Donaire was able to obtain and successfully defend a major title belt for his last 14 fights prior to his loss to Rigondeaux. Out of those 14 fights, 10 of them ended by way of knockout.

To find the answer regarding whether Donaire will or will not regain his pound-for-pound status, one must factor in the choice of weight class he chooses to proceed in.

Having recently jumped up to 126 pounds for the Darchinyan bout, Donaire has now entered a class of talent on a larger scale.

Other areas of question are Donaire’s recent decision to bring his father back into his corner along side his current trainer, Robert Garcia.

Will this duo be able to unify a dominant game plan for Donaire, or will it be a short lived reunification leaving Nonito with a hard decision as to which trainer suits his style best?

In a recent interview with Rigondeaux’s manager Gary Hyde, he stated that a rematch with Donaire is a possibility and stated that the two would have to agree on a fair catch weight of 124 pounds to make the rematch realistic.

Although Donaire has spoken out and the Rigondeaux camp has responded, it is unknown if Top Rank Promotions would be willing to take the huge risk to reunite these two in the ring in 2014.

At this point in time, it appears that Donaire may be faced with two simple choices. He may either rematch Rigondeaux in hopes of successfully avenging his loss, or he will have to attempt to climb the 126 pound division with unfinished business being held over his head.

Depending on the way the cards play out, we will soon be able to tell if Donaire will once again be mentioned as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.

There is no certainty in what the future holds for a boxer. When it comes to the name Donaire, the possibilities are endless.

If Donaire can manage to harmonize his mental wellness with his crafty skill, it is promising that the tables will turn favorable for him in 2014.

The cards have been laid out for Donaire; the question is what hand will he play?

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