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Filipino-American star boxer Nonito Donaire Jr. (left) delivers a blow to Omar Narvaez at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 22. The fight was a snoozefest with “The Filipino Flash” winning via a unanimous decision.  (Filipino Reporter photo by Rene Ner)

 

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After a brief celebratory outing, Nonito Donaire Jr. sat in the lobby of the Affinia Hotel in New York City at 4 a.m. waiting for a pizza delivery.

Just a few hours earlier, Donaire successfully defended his World Boxing Council (WBC)/World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight titles with a shutout victory over previously unbeaten Argentinian two-division champ Omar Narvaez just across the street at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 22, winning by the highly rare tallies of 120-108 on all three scorecards.

Yet Donaire, who moved his record to 27-1 (18 KO) with the victory, didn’t seem at all to be in the mood to celebrate.

For 12 rounds Narvaez (now 35-1-2, 19 KO) disengaged, holding his hands up defensively while throwing about 20 half-hearted punches a round while shying away from Donaire every time he hinted of aggression.

The fans, which were tallied by promoter Top Rank at 4,250, chanted obscenities to voice their displeasure with the contest.

“The fight was stolen from the crowd,” said Donaire, who wore sunglasses to mask some minor facial bruises sustained in the fight, signifying that even easy fights aren’t always easy.

“The Argentinian guy should reimburse all the people.”


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Defending champion Nonito Donaire Jr. getting ready to talk to HBO’s Max Kellerman after his unanimous victory.  (Filipino Reporter photo by Rene Ner)


Donaire, who lives in San Leandro, California, but was born in Bohol, Philippines, had been riding a string of vicious knockout victories, particularly his previous fight with fellow pound-for-pound candidate Fernando Montiel.

Considered an even fight heading in, Donaire dropped Montiel on the floor with a left hook in the second round.

Montiel struggled to his feet, at one point kicking the air awkwardly before being finished off moments later.

There would be no fireworks in his New York City debut, bringing the thorough pre-fight promotion to an anti-climax.

“I’m being a fan right now, I’m disappointed for the fans right now because they deserve so much more for showing up and giving support,” said Donaire.

“He hit me a few times because I want to get hit so I can hit something back. I did everything I can to make it as exciting as I can.”

Donaire’s trainer Roberto Garcia said Donaire told him between rounds that he was getting bored with the fight, but was told to remain on alert to the cagey veteran’s tactics.

“You never know what could happen with one punch, so we told him to be careful, look for the fight, step to the side and throw those hooks,” said Garcia.

“When Nonito tried, Narvaez took a step back and it was just impossible to land. He was very defensive. He does have a lot of experience, we expected a little bit more of a fight but we didn’t get it.”

Michael Bazzell, Donaire’s strength and conditioning coach, tried to accentuate the positives of the performance, which include handing the first defeat to a former flyweight and super flyweight champion.

“He’s leaving the 112-118 divisions beating one of the longest reigning champions there. Hey, he took his 0,” said Bazzell.

Roy Jones Jr., who is considered by almost all boxing pundits to be the most dominant fighter of the 1990s and is a lock for the International Boxing Hall of Fame after his fighting days are over, also felt that there was a lot of upside to Donaire’s performance.

“If you look at his opponent, it definitely should not hurt his stock at all. Ain’t nobody else this kid fought ever beat him,” said Jones, who was commentating the fight for HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” American telecast.

Jones, like Donaire, also was awarded Ring Magazine’s Knockout of the Year for 1998, while Donaire earned that laurel in 2007 for his knockout of Vic Darchinyan to win the flyweight title.

“[Narvaez’s] job was to survive and he did just that. He’s a lighter guy coming up in weight, he can’t make any money defending his title in his home country so he wants to come here and make a little money by taking a risk. He just hoped he didn’t get knocked out,” said Jones.

Donaire, who dropped over 20 pounds to make the 118 pound limit, will step up to the next division to the 122 pound weight class, where a number of attractive options that are also promoted by Top Rank abound, including WBO super bantamweight champ Jorge Arce (58-6-2, 45 KO) of Mexico, Japan’s WBC super bantamweight champ Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KO) and Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., (20-1-1, 17 KO) of Puerto Rico.

When asked which fight he preferred next, Garcia immediately responded Arce, probably due to his smaller stature and aggressive style that leaves him wide-open to counter punches.

“For a good fight and a war, I think Arce would be a great fight,” said Donaire.

“But for a good tactical fight with both speed and power, I think Nishioka would be a more challenging fight. But Arce will always make it challenging by always trying to engage.”

Cameron Dunkin, Donaire’s manager, said that he will try to line up good opponents that will make for TV friendly affairs for Donaire’s next fight, which he said will likely be in January or February.

He says he’d prefer to see Donaire fight Vazquez Jr., fight Donaire on a doubleheader with another of his pupils Miguel Angel Garcia (Roberto’s undefeated younger brother) against former featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez, with Nishioka following in the summer.

Regardless of who is left, Donaire feels a great burden on his shoulder to put on an entertaining performance in his next bout to remind the public why he is universally regarded as one of boxing’s top five best in the world.

“I’m gonna feel sorry for the next guy.”

***

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City.

He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com

Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia


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Filipino-Americans cheering in the crowd before the start of the Donaire-Narvaez fight at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 22.  (Filipino Reporter photo by Rene Ner)

 

Comments  

 
0 #2 L.P. Pelayo 2011-10-29 13:07
Thank you Mr. Rene Ner for the wonderful photos. You captured the fight magically.
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0 #1 L.P. Pelayo 2011-10-29 13:06
Ryan Songalia is a brilliant writer. In-depth, thorough, detailed, knowledgeable = wow!
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