Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. (center), the No. 5 best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, celebrates his victory over Wladimir Sidorenko at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Dec. 4. At left is Donaire’s assistant trainer Roberto Garcia.



Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter

The expectation heading into Nonito Donaire Jr.’s first test in the bantamweight division against former champion Wladimir Sidorenko was that, though he would be competitive, Sidorenko would ultimately fall short of pulling off the upset.

Few thought that “The Filipino Flash” Donaire would blow Sidorenko out.

Yet, that is exactly what happened, when after three knockdowns in four rounds, referee Marcos Rosales called a halt to the bout at the 1:48 mark at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Dec. 4.

It was an explosive entrance into the deep 118 pound division for the 28-year-old Donaire (25-1, 17 KO) of San Leandro, California, who had previously reigned as flyweight and interim super flyweight champion.

The 34-year-old 2000 Olympic Bronze medalist Sidorenko (22-3-2, 17 KO) of Kiev, Ukraine suffered his third loss in his last four fights.

With the win, Donaire earns the right to challenge World Boxing Organization (WBO)/World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel of Los Mochis, Mexico in what amounts to the best little big fight the sport can offer.

The date is Feb. 19, 2011 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.

HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” will televise.

Donaire, 118, assumed control over his much shorter opponent quickly as he wobbled the normally sturdy Sidorenko, 117.5, with a series of left hooks in the second minute of the first round that sent him into the ropes.

Donaire continued to pound the overmatched Sidorenko before a straight right cross-left uppercut-overhand right combinations and ended the night in the fourth with a devastating right cross that convinced Sidorenko to take a knee and end the fight.

“I was really confident going in there,” the 25-1 (17 KO) Donaire tells the Filipino Reporter. “I saw a lot of openings that gave me the advantage over him. I did really well, I wasn’t getting hit a lot. I felt I could see all of his punches. My power is definitely there and my speed is definitely there.”

The impressive showing validated the lofty pound-for-pound ranking that had been bestowed upon Donaire.

Ring magazine, known as “The Bible of Boxing,” ranks Donaire at number 5, largely on the strength of Donaire’s 2007 knockout of previously unbeaten star Vic Darchinyan.

Says Donaire’s manager Cameron Dunkin: “There are definitely people who say, ‘What’s he done for his pound-for-pound ranking besides beat Darchinyan?’ Hey, it’s not his fault that all these guys haven’t fought him. He just keeps winning.

“He does so many things great. He’s just a great fighter all around.”

With each impressive victory, the comparisons and contrasts with Manny Pacquiao grow.

Donaire brushes off any juxtapositions to the living legend, taking pride instead in establishing his own identity.

Instead of being the next Pacquiao, he wants to be the first Nonito Donaire Jr.

“All I know is that I’m going to do the best that I can when I go in the ring to represent who I am. I’m proud of being Filipino and making it to the top. I’m proud that it gives excitement to the Filipino community.

“I try not to think of the pressure of becoming the next guy or carrying the flag after Pacquiao. I’m just doing the best that I can, and if the people think I carry it well, then that will be the answer.”

Donaire: Montiel is going to have a tough time with me

On Ring magazine’s pound-for-pound ratings, Donaire ranks number 5, while Montiel checks in at number 7.

On paper, it looks like an even matchup between two prime fighters at the summit of the sport.

Donaire doesn’t see that; he sees it as a stylistic mismatch.

“He has difficulties with guys who box him,” said the former flyweight and super flyweight interim titlist Donaire.

“He’s a stationary guy who hits really hard if you’re in front of him. If you can avoid his punches, you can make it happen.

“I think he has a  with guys that stick their jabs and use their lengths and move in and out of his punches. He’s going to have a tough time with me.”

Montiel must first get through his Dec. 11 tune-up with Eduardo Garcia (21-5-1, 9 KO) at Terreon in Coauhuila de Zaragoza, Mexico.

Garcia has not lost since 2006, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Nobuo Nashiro in Japan.

“We’re ready for Montiel,” said Donaire’s assistant trainer Roberto Garcia. “We know it’s not an easy fight, but that’s what Nonito has wanted for so long and here it is. Montiel is a Mexican warrior and they never take off fights. We also have a great fighter which makes for a great night for the fans.”

Donaire and Montiel have faced two common opponents, Rafael Concepcion and Luis Maldonado.

Donaire scored a seventh round TKO over Maldonado and decisioned Concepcion, while Montiel knocked both out in three rounds.

Montiel, who holds the WBO and WBC bantamweight titles, became the acknowledged champion of the division when he knocked out Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa out in April.

Regardless of who will enter the fight as the favorite, there is no denying that this is the best little fight that boxing could make.

“It could be an Ali-Frazier of the bantamweights,” Donaire said.

“Or It could be like [Humberto] “Chiquito” Gonzalez versus [Michael] Carbajal. It could be an Ali-Frazier where you get the strong guy versus the guy who can box. There’s just two different styles. There is a natural fighter and a natural boxer. Or it could be a brawl.

“There’s definitely a knockout coming because we’re both looking for knockouts. We’re both willing to do everything to win.”


Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMANews.TV and the Filipino Reporter newspaper.

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