Is Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire (32-2, 21 KO) done as a elite fighter? He doesn't think so, but he'll have to prove it against a tough champion on Saturday night at the Cotai Arena in Macao.
The 31-year-old from Talibon in the Philippines faces WBA featherweight champion Simpiwe "V12" Vetyeka (26-2, 16 KO) in a bout that could vault Donaire into the conversation with champions like Jhonny Gonzalez, Evgeny Gradovich and Nicholas Walters. The latter two also fight in Macao on the same card.
Vetyeka took the title from previously undefeated Chris John in Dec. 2013.
Now he'll battle another high-profile opponent in his first defense.
This could be an entertaining bout. Here's how you can watch the action.
When: Saturday, May 31
Where: Macao, China at Cotai Arena
TV: 4 p.m. ET HBO 2 (Tape Delay)
Live Stream: 9 a.m. ET BoxNation (subscription required, region restrictions)
The Book on Donaire
At one point, Donaire was in most boxing enthusiasts' top-five pound-for-pound fighters. But after he was beaten up by Guillermo Rigondeaux in April 2013, and showed little desire to commit to the sport, his stock took a drastic dip.
Against Vic Darchinyan in their rematch of a 2007 scrap, Donaire stopped the aggressive Armenian in the ninth round. However, Donaire didn't look great in the bout.
The fight was even on one score card, and despite knocking Darchinyan down one in the decisive round, Donaire only had a four-point lead on the other two judges' cards, per BoxRec.
Per Lem Satterfield of The Ring Magazine, Donaire suffered a broken cheekbone in the fight.
It could be that Rigondeaux is just really good—which he is—and that Darchinyan is just really awkward—which he is as well. But Donaire knows he has something to prove.
Per Satterfield, Jake Donovan of Boxing Scene says:
We keep hearing about how the next fight will be Nonito Donaire at his best and his most exciting. The Fil-Am boxer-puncher was one of the best in the lower weight classes for the past seven years, but I believe his time passed.
Donaire must use these types of comments as motivation. Per Marc Anthony Reyes of the Philippines Inquirer, Donaire said:
“It’s been a long time since I entered a fight as an underdog but that has inspired me more."
Everybody needs a little inspiration some time.
The Book on Vetyeka
Despite the fact that a win over John doesn't mean what it would have four years ago, Vetyeka is in position to really make a name for himself.
Were he to follow up his upset win over John with a victory over Donaire, the entire boxing world would have to take some notice.
The 33-year-old South African turned a corner when he stopped Daud Cino Yordan in April 2013. That won him the IBO title, and his momentum continued after beating John.
Knocking off Donaire would easily be his biggest win. The fact that the fight will be seen by a national HBO audience only makes it all the more important to shine.
Can he create even more Donaire doubters, or will his title reign be a short one?
In an interview posted on YouTube by P4Pesco before the Rigondeaux fight, Donaire told reporters "if a guy is faster than me, he is going to give me a lot of trouble. If he's not, it's not going to be a good fight."
While Donaire was wrong about his prediction for his scrap with El Chacal, he was right in general.
Fighters without above-average speed aren't usually going to be a major issue for him. That's the case with Vetyeka.
While he isn't exactly a plodder, he doesn't have the smooth quickness that Rigondeaux possesses, nor the herky-jerky, improbable attacks that Darchinyan has.
Donaire should win this bout with his hand speed and explosive left-hand counter shots.
A seventh-round TKO seems logical.
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