There was a time not that long ago that Nonito Donaire looked downright unbeatable, but a stunning loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux and a massive struggle against Vic Darchinyan altered that reputation quickly.
The unanimous 12-round decision loss to Rigondeaux ended a winning streak that extended 30 fights and 12 years. What’s more, Donaire was dominated by Darchinyan for much of the fight before he eventually rebounded to knock out the challenger in the ninth round. Donaire even left with a fractured bone below his eye.
However, Donaire, who sports a 32-2 record with 21 knockouts, will look much more like the boxer who strung together 30 straight victories Saturday than the one who struggled in those two bouts.
Against WBA featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16 KO’s), Donaire will be chasing a world title in his fourth different weight class. While all the attention will be on the developments that occur inside the ring, it is actually Donaire’s family life that could have him primed for an impressive showing.
Jeff Faraudo of the San Jose Mercury News explained why Donaire recently struggled with his boxing:
Back in Donaire's corner for this fight is his father, Nonito Sr., who sculpted his son's career from the start and had served as his head trainer. The two had a falling out several years ago because Nonito felt his father still treated him like a child.
The effects of the estrangement spilled over into the ring. Robert Garcia took over as primary coach, and Donaire's style gradually shifted from boxer to slugger.
After Donaire had a son of his own, though, he and his father reconnected.
Clearly, a father and son reuniting is more important than any boxing match could be, but in this case, it will also help Donaire in the ring. His father recently worked with Donaire as head trainer during a camp in the Philippines.
Donaire discussed why training with his father helps him prepare for matches, via Faraudo:
I'm starting to think again. Before I just would think of throwing a left hook. Now I'm trying to think of everything. My brain is starting to work all over again, which is good.
My speed and power and the velocity of each punch is much greater. I feel good, I feel confident.
Despite the reunited family and training, Steve Kim of Max Boxing isn’t quite convinced yet that Donaire will return to his old form:
Regardless of those hesitations, we are talking about Ring Magazine’s Boxer of the Year in 2012, a fighter who will be extra motivated to avenge a difficult 2013. Vetyeka upset 10-year featherweight champion Chris John in his last fight, so Donaire will not be overlooking this match in the slightest.
Look for Donaire to come out early and establish some momentum. From there, he will use his famous speed and footwork to gradually wear out Vetyeka over the course of the fight. After all, they don’t call Donaire the “Filipino Flash” for nothing.
Working with his father again will help Donaire return to the tactical skill and speed combination that earned him so many consecutive wins in the first place. During his struggles, he was trying too hard to knock his opponents out, which ultimately cost him. With his father back in his corner honing his technique, Donaire will return to his old form.
Vetyeka just happens to be the one standing in the way this time.
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