Nonito Donaire is beginning a new chapter of his boxing career on Saturday night, and he will start it with a big win over Vic Darchinyan.
After winning 30 consecutive fights, Donaire lost his second bout ever in April, losing to Guillermo Rigondeaux by unanimous decision. "The Filipino Flash" dropped to 31-2 in his career and lost his WBO and Ring super bantamweight titles.
Before that fight, he was on top of the world and considered by many to be the best fighter of 2012. He was arguably one of the best pound-for-pound fighters, but now he's just on the undercard for Saturday as the co-main event.
In 2012, Donaire couldn't be stopped, going 4-0 for the year with wins by knockout, technical knockout, split decision and unanimous decision. His only other loss besides the one in April happened all the way back in March 2001, but he then went on a tear.
The fight on Saturday against Darchinyan is actually a rematch from 2007. Donaire won the bout without much effort, taking down Darchinyan by fifth-round TKO.
Donaire understands this. He also knows that if he loses this fight, his career in boxing may be over. The hype surrounding him has faded since the Rigondeaux loss, and another loss now would officially kill it.
Fortunately, he's still a terrific fighter. At 30 years old, he's taken down some tough competition and has shown some impressive power over his career with 20 knockouts.
The only real knock on him is that he doesn't always stick with the fundamentals. Sometimes he goes for style points instead of staying technically sound. We saw this weakness exposed in April, but Darchinyan isn't as technical as Rigondeaux, so that shouldn't be an issue in this fight.
This is an ideal opportunity for Donaire to get back on track with a win. In 2007, he dominated Darchinyan, who is well past his prime now in 2013.
After losing just his second career fight, Donaire is beginning a new chapter in his boxing career. With what we've seen from him and his opponent, he will win on Saturday and set a positive tone for the next chapter.