Filipino-American, Nonito Donaire, cemented his legacy through his vintage and valiant performances in the World Boxing Super Series.
1. No Weight Issues
The former multiple-time world champion in four weight classes came down from 126 lbs to compete at 118 lbs for the first time in seven years to enter the World Boxing Super Series.
Fighting at 118 for the first time since November 2011, 36-year-old Donaire became the WBA champion in November 2018 as Ryan Burnett was forced to retire on his stool between the fourth and fifth rounds due to a lower back injury in their WBSS quarter-final.
2. Became 20 Years Younger
Donaire gave many catchy quotes during his time in the World Boxing Super Series. But the most memorable came after his fight against Burnett.
“I am so excited to be in the WBSS. This tournament makes me 20 years younger. I have to be the best of me to compete against the young guys in this tournament.”
‘It ain’t bragging if you can back it up’, as Muhammad Ali said and Donaire did indeed back up his words in his following fights.
3. KO of the Year Contender
Donaire’s first defense was a sixth-round knockout of Stephon Young in April 2019, securing his place in the WBSS Bantamweight Final against Japanese IBF counterpart Naoya Inoue. Stephon Young had replaced Zolani Tete, who had to pull out of the fight with a shoulder injury, just days before the semi-final. Donaire adjusted and produced a devastating one-punch KO – a KO of the Year contender. Once again, Donaire had turned back the clock.
4. Hard Work Pays Off
Donaire’s trainer, 78-year-old Kenny Adams, who has worked with multiple Olympians and world champions, told during the WBSS that no one works harder than ‘The Filipino Flash’: “I’ve been in boxing for a long, long time. But of all the champions I’ve had, this is the hardest working guy that you’re ever going to find.”
A trainer will always say that about his fighter, but we believe you, Kenny.
5. Pushed The Monster to The Limit
With a total fight time of 5 minutes and 29 seconds in the World Boxing Super Series, ‘The Monster’ Inoue had become a phenomenon, before entering the final. Inoue was a significant favourite – a 10-1 favorite by several bookmakers. But the Final for the Muhammad Ali Trophy in Saitama, Japan was a testament to Kenny’s words. Donaire may have been in the twilight of his career but he pushed the unbeaten and 10 years younger opponent to the limit.
Inoue’s ‘reputation as one of the planet’s most fearsome fighters was put in serious jeopardy in the 9th as Donaire rocked him with a sensational counter right, leaving his opponent reeling for the first time in his career. In the closing rounds, Donaire took a knee after a body shot in the 11th, although he would bravely withstand to hear the final bell. The three judges scored the bout 116-111, 117-109, 114-113 in favour of Inoue.
Inoue and Donaire embraced after the back and forth battle that became the consensus Fight of the Year 2019. A fight for the history books. As WBSS Chief Boxing Officer Kalle Sauerland said: “We’ve seen ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’, ‘The Thrilla in Manilla’ and now we have seen the ‘Drama in Saitama’.”