Toshiaki Nishioka hasn't lost since 2004. Nonito Donaire hasn't lost since 2001. Something will have to give when the super bantamweight stars face off in a highly-anticipated title fight on Saturday night.
Nishioka hasn't fought in more than a year. He scored a unanimous-decision victory over Rafael Marquez the last time out and has been waiting for a chance to fight Donaire ever since. He's finally going to get the opportunity.
Better known in his home country of Japan than in the United States, Nishioka sports a 39-4-3 record, earning 24 knockouts along the way. Facing Donaire will be the highest-profile fight of his career, but one he's capable of winning.
The biggest concern is how the southpaw will react to the extended break between fights. He's fought at least twice in every year since 2004, so going an entire calendar without a competitive bout will be an interesting challenge.
At 36, it's a lot more difficult to get prepared, both mentally and physically, for a marquee fight. If Nishioka is able to overcome those hurdle and come out in top form, he can pull off the upset.
He might even be catching Donaire at the right time. The “Filipino Flash” was on a dominant run of nine knockouts in 10 fights, but Donaire has only been able to earn decision victories in his last three bouts. That includes a split-decision triumph over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
Yet, there's a reason Donaire is 29-1 with 18 knockouts. When he's on the top of his game, using his quickness and agility to create attacking opportunities, he's virtually unstoppable. That's what fans should expect to see on Saturday.
It will be interesting to see which fighter attempts to set the pace early. Donaire will attempt to impose his will on Nishioka early, and the underdog must fend him off immediately to avoid spending the entire fight on the defensive.
Ultimately, Donaire has the advantage. That might not have been the case if they'd fought a handful of years ago, but based on their current ability levels, the younger boxer should be able to wear down Nishioka.
Expect a battle that goes back and forth until the middle rounds, when Donaire starts to take control. From that point, he will go on the attack to neutralize Nishioka's comeback attempts, leading to victory.
Prediction: Donaire by eighth-round KO