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Blueprint for Nonito Donaire to Become the Top Pound-for-Pound Boxer

Justin TateCorrespondent INovember 14, 2016

Blueprint for Nonito Donaire to Become the Top Pound-for-Pound Boxer

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    Nonito Donaire is ranked No. 5 on both ESPN's and Ring TV's lists of the best top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.

    He rose to acclaim based on his accomplishments in four weight classes. It's expected that Donaire could ascend a few more weight divisions before he calls it a career.

    But merely going through weight divisions isn't enough to displace Floyd Mayweather or Andre Ward, the consensus No. 1 and 2 fighters on the pound-for-pound lists.

    Donaire's choice of opponent will play a major role in whether he will beat Mayweather for the top spot. Here's a look at a path Donaire could take to get there.

Guillermo Rigondeaux

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    Rigondeaux has been in only 11 professional fights, but he is regarded as one of the brightest talents in boxing due to his legendary 400-fight amateur career and two Olympic gold medals.

    Rigondeaux is the consensus No. 2 fighter in the super bantamweight division, trailing only Donaire. The two are set to fight on April 13 at Radio City Music Hall in New York on HBO.

    What Victory Can Bring:

    It depends on how impressive Donaire can be. Just winning against Rigondeaux could move Donaire into the No. 4 position, surpassing Sergio Martinez.

    If Donaire can quickly and brutally dispatch Rigondeaux, surpassing Juan Manuel Marquez for the No. 3 spot is not out of the question.

    Outside of the knockout of Manny Pacquiao knockout, Marquez hasn't done himself too many favors with the level of competition he's been fighting. This gives Donaire a big opportunity if he leaves the right impression.

Chris John

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    Chris John is one of the biggest legends still active in boxing. He's also one of the longest reigning champions and holds one of the most distinguished undefeated records in the sport.

    If Donaire can move up and hand John his first defeat, he'll reap the highest praise in his career.

    But because of John's desire to only fight in his home country of Indonesia, Donaire would likely have to get on a plane to make this fight happen. Fighting there would only increase the kudos if Donaire were to get the win.

    What Victory Can Bring:

    If Donaire defeats John by knockout, he'll hold yet another victory over a previously undefeated fighter.

    It's quite possible an impressive display could vault him as far as No. 2 on most pound-for-pound lists, surpassing a chronically injured Andre Ward.

Yuriorkis Gamboa

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    Yuriorkis Gamboa is the WBA super featherweight interim world champion. His speed and power helped him dominate the featherweight division and enter pound-for-pound discussion.

    Donaire has said for a while that he can expose Gamboa's flaws and that he wants the fight. If Gamboa gets through Rigondeaux and John by year's end, a Gamboa fight can still get made at 130 pounds.

    What Victory Can Bring:

    Donaire has the body build to hold 130 pounds well, but the critics will question whether the 130-pound weight class is too high for Donaire when going up against a talent as great as Gamboa.

    The fight will be billed as not just another super fight, but the Mayweather-Pacquiao of the smaller weight classes.

    If Donaire defeats Gamboa on top of winning fights with John and Rigondeaux, there isn't much that could hold him back from being declared the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

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