Nonito Donaire – Back to His Best?

On 29th May, Nonito Donaire obliterated Nordine Oubaali with a 4th round knockout, rolling back the years and staking his claim as a top Bantamweight once again and becoming the WBC Champion. Is he ready for the unification fights that will undoubtedly be wars?

The Fight

At the time of stoppage, I had the score 29-26 in favour of Donaire, who became the oldest Bantamweight World Champion at the age of 38.

For the first round, Donaire seemed to feel out the undefeated Oubaali, getting in punches when he could whilst Oubaali showed his energy and eagerness to dart in and try and land heavy early on Donaire.

In all honesty in the first round, I couldn’t tell if Oubaali was scared of Donaire with his erratic darting in or trying to confuse Donaire with his quick movements and unpredictability.

As round 2 commenced, Donaire seemed settled and knew he had felt out Oubaali. Oubaali was a bit more tentative, darting in less and throwing less. Donaire remained composed, showing off his skill and experience that has lent him to be fighting at world level at the elderly age of 38.

Taking control of the centre ring, Donaire was in control and ready to assert himself in the fight.

Having been World Champion at featherweight, Donaire held a power advantage over Oubaali and it was increasingly becoming evident as the third round progressed.

Near the two-minute mark of the round, Donaire clipped Oubaali with a hook, causing the French fighter to retreat, Donaire walking him down. Against the ropes, Donaire picked out a left hook, hitting Oubaali on the chin and sending him to the canvas with 45 seconds left in the round.

Oubaali got right back up but looked hurt and was just trying to keep Donaire off of him. Seeing this, Donaire turned the gas on, hurting him again and as the bell rung, he hit him with another left hook, sending Oubaali crashing to the canvas.

Although late, the shot didn’t look intentionally late from Donaire and the referee scored it a knockdown, giving Oubaali the 8 count. He gave Oubaali every chance of recovery but Oubaali had no idea where he was and only had a minute to recover in the break between rounds.

Coming out for the 4th, Oubaali was still wobbly, Donaire stalking his prey. The left hook from Donaire kept landing with authority and Oubaali always acknowledged the power it possessed.

Halfway through the 4th, Oubaali was hurt again and Donaire finished him against the ropes with a barrage of shots, the referee waiving the count. Donaire was at the top once again.

Donaire drops Oubaali to finish the fight
Donaire drops Oubaali to finish the fight

Who’s Next?

Naoya Inoue, Ring Magazine’s lb-for-lb Number 2 fighter and the man at 118 pounds, is the fight that makes sense and needs to be signed. The rematch will no doubt have the fireworks of the first fight, the culmination of the World Boxing Super Series and the eventual Ring Magazine Fight of the Year in 2019.

Firstly, though Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue has to come through his IBF mandatory challenger, Michael Dasmarinas, which for Inoue should prove no hassle as Dasmarinas hasn’t fought outside of South East Asia before and never a true world level fighter. I cannot wait for this unification.

Inoue vs Donaire - the Rematch is needed
Inoue vs Donaire – the Rematch is needed

The only other fight to make at Bantamweight would be against John Riel Casimero. Since moving back to 118 pounds, all of Casimero’s victories have come by way of stoppage and in emphatic fashion. The Zolani Tete victory to capture the WBO title is a true representation of the power and finishing quality he possesses.

Provided he beats Guillermo Rigondeaux, who will be a tough outing, but I believe he isn’t the same fighter since his loss to Vasyl Lomachenko, Donaire vs. Casimero makes sense boxing wise and politically, having both fought on PBC cards in their last fights.

John Riel Casimero
John Riel Casimero
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