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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Filipino-American Nonito Donaire Jr. (left) and Toshiaki Nishioka during their World Boxing Organization super bantamweight title fight at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Oct. 13. Donaire won by a ninth round TKO.  (Photo by Jhay Otamias)


Special to the Filipino Reporter

CARSON, Calif. — The anticipated “Asian war” between Filipino-American Nonito Donaire Jr. and Japanese fighter Toshiaki Nishioka turned out to be a tactical match between two smart boxers.

Donaire, 29, floored Nishioka, 36, twice en route to scoring a ninth round victory before 7,665 fans at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Oct. 13.

Nishioka was mobile and elusive.

His right hand was up all night to protect himself from that powerful and devastating left hook of his opponent across the ring.

His defense was good and it worked for half of the scheduled 12-round super bantamweight championship fight last Saturday night.

He used good ring mobility to avoid his foe’s advances in the ring.

And then Nishioka committed a mistake.

Or maybe Donaire sized him up after six rounds.

Donaire landed a strong left uppercut between Nishioka’s guards in the sixth round. And it dropped the Japanese fighter in the cold canvas of the ring.

The veteran Japanese fighter regained his composure and beat the mandatory eight-count issued by referee Raul Caiz Sr. Nishioka got up and fought back as Donaire rained punches on him, hoping to knock him out for good.

But Nishioka landed hooks and straights of his own as both fighters engaged each other in the remainder of the round.

The action in the ring delighted an audience who trooped to Southern California.

“The game plan for the fight was to use the right hand all along. But I used my left to drop him in the sixth. I waited for the opening so I could hit him with my right straight and it came in the ninth,” said Donaire in an interview with the Philippine Star.

“You could see the raw tendon because the skin was ripped open. Fortunately, there is no fracture. It’s all bandaged now but I’m not supposed to move it.”

Nishioka was extra cautious after hitting the canvas in the succeeding round.

His guards are higher and his defense was tighter in order to prevent another blow from Donaire.

But the Fil-Am fighter used his jabs and feints to confuse his opponent.

He attacked Nishioka’s body opening up a small space on the smart Japanese boxer.

Donaire, who was born in General Santos City as Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, needed three more rounds to finally close in on Nishioka.

And it was during that exchange that he found an opening.

A darting straight right hand found its way to Nishioka’s jaw.

That stopped Nishioka’s attack and knocked him down for the second time in the fight.

Again, Nishioka stood up and beat the eight-count by Caiz, but he was a vulnerable target for Donaire.

Nishioka’s corner asked for the referee to stop the fight upon seeing their guy at the receiving end of a barrage of punches from Donaire.

Caiz immediately halted the fight.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum was elated with Donaire’s showing.

“We’ll keep this young man busy. He loves to fight,” Arum said.

The win improved Donaire’s impressive record to 30.

Nineteen of them are by way of knockouts.

He was successful in beating the longtime king of the division in Nishioka, and positioned himself as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world and the man to beat in the 122-pound class.

Meantime, Nishioka will have some thinking to do if he still wants to continue fighting, or leave the sport after this defeat in the hands of the Fil-Am southpaw.


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Top photo: Nonito Donaire Jr. knocks down Toshiaki Nishioka with a punch in the sixth round. Photo below: Donaire celebrates victory.  (Photos by Jhay Otamias)

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