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Avila Perspective, Chap. 138: Ageless Nonito Donaire, Mayweather and More

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  • Avila Perspective, Chap. 138: Ageless Nonito Donaire, Mayweather and More

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    By David A. Avila

    As Nonito Donaire gazed at his fallen victim, the much younger and seemingly stronger bantamweight world champion Nordine Oubaali, it was a stark reminder that youth, strength and hype do not equate to certain victory.

    Age has its pitfalls, but skills pay the bills.

    While Donaire proved once again that he’s destined for boxing’s Hall of Fame, he also sent out a three-ring alarm that he’s still a dangerous player on the world stage. Do not count him out.

    All weekend the older veterans of not just the boxing world, but golf, Indy racing and tennis proved that experience that comes with age is still a major factor in sporting competition.

    While Donaire was knocking out Oubaali, 300 miles away Jorge Linares nearly did the same to Devin Haney. And in other sports Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship, Helio Castroneves won the Indy 500 and Rafael Nadal is gunning for a 14th French Open title.

    As Napoleon Dynamite once said: “you got skills.”

    For decades now Donaire (pictured on the left) has proven over and over again that he’s more than a just a knockout artist. At the advanced boxing age of 38 the fighter known as “Filipino Flash” drew Oubaali into his line of fire and dropped him like a worn-out sparring partner.

    It's been quite a journey.

    Hollywood Park

    Just by luck I happened to see Nonito Donaire’s professional debut 20 years ago. It was not too far from the Dignity Health Sports Park that he laced up professionally for the first time at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California.

    I was there to see Fernando “Bobby Boy” Velardez, a super tough kid from San Bernardino who would later fight for a world title against Erik Morales. On that same card a young female fighter Karen Martin would win by vicious knockout. Donaire would also win by quick knockout over a kid named Jose Lazaro.

    Inexplicably Donaire would lose his next fight in Northern California by decision in a five-round bout to Rosendo Sanchez. After that he would not lose another fight for 12 years.

    I saw Donaire fight one more time at Hollywood Park Casino and then it took another three years before he fought in Southern California at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello. A tough Mexican kid named Ricardo Barrera lasted four rounds until Donaire broke him down.

    It was easy to see Donaire was simply too fast, too agile and could hit a ton with that left hook and right cross. Few could match his athleticism enough to test his skills until he met another Southern California hopeful at the Pechanga Casino in Temecula in January 2006.

    Kahren Harutyunyan was a short, sturdy and ultra-intelligent fighter from Glendale, California who never looked for the easy fights. With Donaire he knew what to expect but when the Filipino Flash dropped him in the second round, it did not look like it would last much longer.

    It did.

    Harutyunyan and Donaire would trade blows for 10 entire rounds and after the torrid super flyweight NABF title fight, Donaire won by split decision.

    I’ll never forget what Harutyunyan said after the fight: “I wish I had longer arms.” He would fight once more then graduate from UCLA and become a businessman. He also would later promote dozens of boxing cards in Southern California.

    Donaire probably ended a lot of boxing careers. But that night he proved he was more than just super athletic, he also showcased boxing skills that allowed him to defeat tough competitors with chins of steel. Those skills were extremely necessary one year later when he clashed with another Armenian fighter named Vic “The Destroyer” Darchinyan.

    IBF world champion Darchinyan was a southpaw wrecking machine who had defeated Nonito’s brother Glenn Donaire a year earlier and nearly killed Jose Victor Burgos with a 12-round battering. Burgos was sent to the hospital with a brain bleed but recovered and never fought again.

    Donaire met Darchinyan in Connecticut and quickly displayed his ability to dart in and out with jabs and counters before receiving fire. And when Darchinyan charged in during the fifth round and he ran into a Donaire left hook and it was over.

    It was the beginning of Donaire’s reign and recognition as one of prizefighting’s most exciting fighters. Many would include Donaire on their pound-for-pound top-10 lists.

    “Three of my biggest fights were Darchinyan, Fernando Montiel and Naoya Inoue,” says Donaire who thinks a rematch with Inoue should be in order.

    After 20 years as a prizefighter Donaire has returned to the forefront as the WBC bantamweight world titlist immediately after losing a razor close decision to Inoue in Japan. It proves that despite two decades fighting many of the best in the world, he maintains two vital and necessary elements to remain an elite prizefighter: skills and power.

    “I’m still doing it and I’m healthy. I’m not going out there partying,” said Donaire. “I have an amazing wonderful wife. She taught me to be healthy.”

    Donaire expects the championship journey to continue.

    “I have a great talent, great reflexes and a great mind to get better,” said Donaire who lives and trains in Las Vegas. “That’s why I’m still excited after 20 years.”

    Mayweather and Others on PPV

    Floyd Mayweather returns to fight another exhibition with another non-boxer when he meets Logan Paul on Sunday June 6, at 5 p.m. PT from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Showtime pay-per-view will televise the entire boxing card.

    Paul may not be a fighter but he has tremendous power in his punches. Mayweather, of course, is harder to hit than a gnat in a hurricane.

    Former super welterweight titlist Jarrett Hurd (24-1) meets Luis Arias (18-2-1) in a middleweight scrap set for 10 rounds. Also, Badou Jack (23-3-3) fights undefeated Derwin Colina (15-0), a late replacement for Jean Pascal who failed a PED test.

    Four Kings on Showtime

    Not to belittle the documentary “The Four Kings” that will be debuting on Sunday, June 6 at 8 p.m. PT on Showtime, but most fans fail to realize that the did not fight each other all within a short period. It took nearly a decade for them to face each other.

    It started with Sugar Ray Leonard meeting Robert Duran for the welterweight world championship in Montreal, Canada. They called it the “Brawl in Montreal” and it lived up to expectations. That took place in 1980. Then followed Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns and so forth until Leonard clashed with Marvin Hagler in 1987.

    In between those seven years there was a lot of back and forth conversations, retirements and comebacks. But yes, they all fought each other and it was magical.

    Thompson Boxing Promotions

    On Sunday June 6, Michael Dutchover (14-1) meets Ivan Benitez (14-4-1) in an eight- round lightweight match at Omega Products International in Corona, California. Also, undefeated super welterweight Richard Brewart (9-0) and Donte Stubbs (6-1) tangle in the semi-main event. Both come from the Inland Empire area and are familiar with each other.

    The Thompson Boxing Promotion card will be shown on its web site at 2:30 p.m. PT. Go to this link: www.Thompsonboxing.com

    Fights to Watch

    Sat. ESPN+ 11 a.m. Daniel Dubois (15-1) vs. Bogdan Dinu (20-2) WBA interim heavyweight title in Telford, England.

    Sun. WWW.Thompsonboxing.com 2:30 p.m. PT Michael Dutchover (14-1) vs Ivan Benitez (14-4-1).

    Sun. Showtime ppv 5:30 p.m. PT Jarrett Hurd (24-1) vs Luis Arias (18-2-1); Badou Jack (23-3-3) vs Derwin Colina (15-0); Floyd Mayweather vs Logan Paul exhibition.

    Photo credit: Esther Lin / Showtime

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel
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