HBO has lined up an exciting night of boxing as a battle between Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire and Wilfredo "Papito" Vazquez Jr. will take place for the vacant WBO Super Bantamweight Championship.
Each boxer has only lost once in their respective careers, so something has to give on Saturday night. Donaire is the WBC and WBO Bantamweight titleholder, but he decided to move up to 122 lbs. in order to take on Vazquez Jr. Papito is a former Super Bantamweight champion, but he dropped the title to Jorge Arce last year.
The 29-year-old Donaire is the clear favorite, as he hasn't lost a fight since dropping his second professional bout way back in 2001. Donaire hasn't really had a close call since his split-decision win over Kahren Harutyunyan in 2006.
Vazquez Jr. has the punching power to shock Donaire, scoring 16 knockouts in 19 career victories, so Donaire will have to be at the top of his game. If he isn't, he is certainly at risk of getting upset.
Where: Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas
When: Saturday, Feb. 4 at 10:00 p.m. EST
Live Streaming: HBO.com
Middleweight Championship: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (c) vs. Marco Antonio Rubio
Super Bantamweight Championship: Nonito Donaire (c) vs. Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
Donaire's Keys to Victory
In order for Donaire to come out on top, he will simply have to control the pace of the fight. Donaire is considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world thanks to his quickness and incredible hand speed.
Vazquez Jr. is quick in his own right, but as long as Donaire asserts himself early, his talent advantage will be evident.
Nine of Donaire's past 11 fights have ended in The Filipino Flash winning by knockout, so aggressiveness will be key. If the fight lasts into the latter rounds, then Donaire likely has the advantage thanks to his endurance. Vazquez Jr. has sneaky punching power, though, so Donaire would be best served to end the fight as quickly as possible.
Vazquez Jr.'s Keys to Victory
There isn't a ton of mystery when it comes to Vazquez Jr.'s game plan. The vast majority of his victories have come via the knockout, so he will certainly be looking to beat Donaire in that fashion. It obviously won't be easy, as Donaire has never been knocked out in his decade-long career. That isn't going to stop Vazquez Jr. from trying, though.
The more technically sound boxer in this fight is undoubtedly Donaire, so Vazquez Jr. is liable to get picked apart if he tries to go the distance. Vazquez Jr.'s only real chance in this fight is if he finds a way to rattle Donaire and knock him down.
In other words, Vazquez Jr. needs to brawl Donaire, not box him.
What They're Saying
Donaire is a pretty significant favorite to capture the vacant WBO Super Bantamweight title on Saturday, but Vazquez Jr. doesn't think he should be written off. Vazquez Jr. is aiming to take back what he believes to be his title, according to Marc Anthony Reyes of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
"It’s a challenge, no question," Vazquez, who lost the title to Mexican Jorge Arce last year, was quoted as saying. "But it’s also a chance to demonstrate what I’m capable of. Most important is that I get the chance to fight for my title, which belongs to me.
He (Donaire) is a great athlete, but not a superhero like they want him to be. But he’s humble and demonstrated good vibes when we met. He’s earned what he has but anyone can be beat."
Vazquez Jr. has proven to be a solid fighter, but Donaire is at an entirely different level in terms of talent. He will prove that with a ninth-round knockout of Vazquez Jr.