Interview: Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire Defends IBF Flyweight Title August 15th!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (July 17, 2009)    
When they refer to the second coming of Manny Pacquiao they are referring to IBF and IBO Flyweight champion Nonito Donaire! He may be manager Cameron Dunkin’s smallest fighter but is establishing himself to be his biggest star!

At 15, Donaire was the 1998 National Silver Gloves Champion. In 1999 he won the National and International Junior Olympics titles. In 2000 he was the USA Tournament champion. At the Olympic trials he got to the finals
losing to Brian Viloria who like Donaire would later become a world champion. “I had defeated Ron Siler (2004 Olympic team member) and in losing to Viloria I would be the Olympic alternate,” said Donaire. He had a 68-8 amateur record. At 18 he decided to turn professional and not wait for the 2004 Olympics.

Making his pro debut in Feburary of 2001 Donaire scored a 1st round knockout over Jose Lazaro, 1-3-1, of Mexico. In his next match three weeks later he lost a 5 round decision to Rosendo Sanchez, 2-1, who would then defeat Lazaro and retire from boxing. In that fight Donaire suffered a broken left hand. From that point on the “Filipino Flash” has seen nothing but victories, 20 straight of them! He would have two more wins in the US before returning to his birth place in the Philippines scoring another 1st round knockout win. Then he traveled to the island of Guam winning the vacant WBO Asia Pacific flyweight title. He stopped Kaichon Sor Vorapin, 4-5, in the 2nd round with a fierce combination sending his victim to the canvas. Upon returning to the Philippines he finished the year out winning an 8 round decision over Mark Sales, 6-14-2.

Donaire would then go back to California and defeat Jorge Lopez, 2-6-1, with another 1st round knockout. Lopez had gone the distance with Olympian Jose Navarro the year before. Wondering just where his career was going he took a year off tired of fighting opponents with losing records. In June of 2004 he came back to face Ricardo Barrera, 16-4-1. His hand and foot speed paid off stopping him in the 4th round. At years end he defeated Gilberto Bolanos, 8-7-1, over 8 rounds. Bolanos was coming off a draw with Rudy Dominguez, 10-0 and a knockout over Kahren Harutyunyan, 11-1-3.

The year 2005 would open a new world for Donaire as Dunkin became his manager. Known for the maker of champions, he would put Donaire in with a veteran known to take a punch in Paulino Villalobos, 24-28-2. Dunkin’s friend, matchmaker Chris Middendorf, put Donaire on his ESPN2 show. Villalobos had gone the distance in recent fights with Angel Priolo, 29-1, Olympian Clarence Vinson, 13-1, former champion Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, 43-3, Oscar Leon, 25-4, Cesar Morales 15-1 and Al Seeger 22-1. It was scheduled in June for 8 rounds. At the end of the 6th round, Villalobos quit in his corner. Commentator Teddy Atlas said “this kid is going to be champ someday”.

All of a sudden Donaire found himself busy with wins in July, October and another big one set for November. He would meet Ilido Julio, 35-6-1, who was on a six fight win streak. “I won the decision but was out of shape,” said Donaire. He won every round on all three judge’s scorecards.

In January of 2006 Donaire defeated Armenian Kahren Harutunyan, 13-2-3, the WBO NABO super flyweight champion, for the vacant NABF title, by split decision in 10. “I had him down in the 2nd round and can’t understand how one of the judges gave him the fight,” said Donaire. The other two judge’s had it 97-92 each. He would win his next three fights, two by stoppage bringing his record to 17-1 (10).

Now this is where the expertise of a good manager working with a good promoter comes into play. Donaire hadn’t made 112 in almost 5 years. His older brother Glenn, now retired, the previous year had lost to Vic Darchinyan, the IBF/IBO flyweight champion by technical decision due to a broken jaw in the 6th round. He was on the same card defending his NABF title defeating Oscar Andrade, 35-27-1. Would it be a revenge factor to bring him down in weight or just a good move figuring he could defeat the unbeaten Armenian, from Australia?

On July 7th, of 2007, Donaire was a heavy underdog when entering the ring at Harbour Yard Arena, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was taking on the unbeaten, Darchinyan, 28-0. From the start Donaire easily avoided his opponent’s wild swings and easily scored with jabs and occasional right hands. “He had no knockout punch, but he drains you of your energy by pushing you around,” said Donaire. In the 1st round Darchinyan tossed Donaire to the canvas. The 2nd round was close since he didn’t move to the champion’s right as much and stayed in front of him. At ringside cheering him on was his brother. In his corner from the very start of his career was his dad, Nonito, Sr. Back home praying, was his mom, in California. The support of his family was there.

In the 3rd round with about 30 seconds to go Donaire rocked his opponent with a left hook causing a cut on the right eye brow. In the 4th round he had Darchinyan’s eye’s red and swollen. In the 5th round the southpaw champion jabbed and followed with a left hand getting countered by Donaire’s left hook and dropped to the canvas. In attempting to rise Darchinyan struggled to get up and then stumbled forward into the ropes as the referee Eddie Claudio waved it off at 1:38 of the round crowing a new world champion. As the now ex-champion lay on the canvas being administered to the older brother of Donaire came into the ring embracing one another. Darchinyan had to be taken from the ring on a stretcher. It was the crowning moment of a new champion! It seems mom’s prayers were answered!

“I pray to Him (God) for every fight. He is a big part of my life,” said Donaire. Referring to his manager (Dunkin), “Cameron’s the best,” added Donaire. His first defense was against Luis Maldonado, 35-2-1, of Mexico, who by the 7th round was a bloody mess. A sweeping left hook dropped the challenger. It was only the second knockdown in Maldonado’s career. The other was in a title bout with Darchinyan. In the 8th round a straight right hand staggered the challenger and forced him to the ropes. Then Donaire delivered two wicked left hooks to the body and head bringing in referee Charley Dwyer to rescue Maldonado, who did not complain about the stoppage.

Next up in November of 2008 it would be South African champion Moruti Mthalane, 22-1. He was a tough challenger who continuously came forward. Donaire turned southpaw in the 4th round switching back and forth. In the 8th round an uppercut out of the southpaw stance cut the challenger’s left eye lid very badly. Donaire motioned to the referee Joe Cortez who immediately took Mthalane over to the ring physician. After checking the cut he advised the bout to be stopped. Donaire only had praise for Mthalane who certainly hadn’t embarrassed himself.

In Donaire’s most recent fight he returned to the Philippines, at the Araneta Coliseum, in Quezon City, Manila, to face the challenge of San Antonio’s Raul Martinez, 24-0. This writer had seen him score a dramatic 1st round knockout over Victor Proa, 26-0-2, of Mexico last November in Philly. Martinez had only made 112 once, last July, and held the IBA super flyweight title. Donaire dropped Martinez twice in the 1st round and once in the 2nd round. Martinez came back in the 3rd round but in the 4th round he was dropped for a fourth time by a left uppercut with about 20 seconds to go in the round. Referee Pete Podgorski immediately waved Martinez off even though he bounced right back up.

Donaire was born in Talibon, Bohol, Philippines, on November 16th of 1982. On January 22, 2008, Donaire proposed on camera to Rachel Marcial, a USA National Collegiate and Military Taekwondo champion. They were married on August 8, 2008.

This set’s the stage for Donaire’s next fight for the WBA super flyweight interim title against Rafael Concepcion, 13-3-1, who is the #3 challenger, on August 15th in Las Vegas. This is one of two title bouts his promoter Top Rank is featuring. In the other bout another one of Dunkin’s champions Steven Luevano, the WBO featherweight champion is defending against his #1 contender Bernabe Concepcion. Both Concepcion’s are from Panama, but not related.

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