Nonito Donaire Must Take Control in 2012

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Ed MulhollandTwelve months ago, Nonito Donaire was a 115-pound champion about to take a shot at a 118-lb belt. Now he’s a 118 lb champion once more on the move through the weight divisions; on Saturday, he faces Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in a junior bantamweight contest that is the opening fight in Saturday’s first HBO World Championship Boxing broadcast of 2012.

Donaire is coming off a year in which some things went spectacularly well and some things went slightly less so. Here’s a quick look back at the good and the bad of Donaire’s 2011, and what the Filipino Flash needs to do in 2012 and beyond:

The Good: Donaire’s second-round TKO destruction of Fernando Montiel on HBO last February launched him into the stratosphere. He not only took that bantamweight belt, but he annihilated a quality opponent, with what was the consensus KO of the year.  Donaire suddenly found himself in the upper half of every pound-for-pound list, and he seemingly had the world at his feet.

The Bad: Donaire had had a moment like this before, when he knocked out Vic Darchinyan in 2007, only to languish (partly as a result of promotional conflicts) while in search of the next defining fight. That finally arrived against Montiel, but almost immediately Donaire again disappeared, embroiled in a contract dispute. That was resolved in time for Donaire to fight Omar Narvaez in New York City, but an enthusiastic crowd in the Big Apple was let down by a disappointing bout in which Narvaez refused to engage and Donaire professed himself “bored.”

The Future: The Narvaez debacle wasn’t entirely his fault; Donaire did what he could, but his opponent retreated into his shell early and never attempted to emerge from it. Now Donaire needs to load up his dance card as much as possible. His is a game based on speed and timing as well as power, and he would benefit from fighting regularly. Nobody expects him to make like Henry Armstrong and fight twice a month, but three or even four fights a year would help him fill the role that is being effectively vacated by certain other superstars who seem reluctant to engage on the main stage. Plenty of challenges await him, at 122 and even 126 lbs; but first, he needs to look impressive against the dangerous Vazquez.

If he does so, he can start 2012 the way he started 2011; the challenge this time is to maintain the momentum and cement his place at the top of the rankings.

HBO Boxing 2011 By the Numbers

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credits: Will Hart With 2012 underway, and a new season of HBO Boxing close to kicking off, here are a few facts and figures by which to remember the boxing year that has just passed.

1
The number of rounds it took for the long-anticipated meeting between junior middleweights James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo to explode into the war we all thought and hoped it would be.

177
The total number of punches thrown by both men in that dramatic first round.

2
Photo Credits: Ed Mulholland Bantamweight champ Fernando Montiel was supposed to provide, at the very least, a stiff challenge to Nonito Donaire, who was moving up from the junior bantamweight division. But two rounds was all it took for Donaire to flatten Montiel with a monstrous left hook that launched the Filipino Flash on the road to potential stardom.

5
The number of times Sergio Martinez knocked down Sergiy Dzinziruk during his middleweight title defense in March.

0
The number of times Dzinziruk had been floored previously in his professional career.

6
The sixth round was the highlight of the fast-paced clash between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto. Each man had already officially been down once when Berto dropped Ortiz and seemed to be closing in for the kill. But then a powerful left hand sent Berto to the canvas – and prompted HBO commentator Emanuel Steward to erupt in enthusiasm.

4
The number of rounds it took for Ortiz’s star, which had risen in the wake of his Berto win, to come crashing down to Earth: An intentional headbutt of Floyd Mayweather was followed by a point deduction and then, while Ortiz was attempting to apologize to Mayweather for the headbutt (for what appeared to be the third time), Floyd’s left hook and a right hand dropped Ortiz for the count.

36
Photo Credit: Will Hart The total rounds that Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have fought, without a clear winner emerging from their rivalry.

114-113
The average score, in favor of Pacquiao, of the nine scorecards that have been handed in over the course of the three fights he has fought with Marquez.

86
The sum of punches Miguel Cotto landed on the surgically repaired right eye of Antonio Margarito, en route to a tenth-round stoppage that avenged his controversial defeat three years earlier.

2
The points deducted by referee Joe Cooper from Amir Khan during Khan’s junior welterweight title defense against Lamont Peterson. The deductions would prove decisive in handing Khan a narrow loss, the second defeat of his career.

26
The number of cards televised in 2011 on World Championship Boxing, Boxing After Dark, and HBO PPV.

CompuBox Factors: Two One-Punch Batamweights

"One-punch power" and "bantamweights" usually don't mix but they apply for Saturday's showdown between WBC/WBO champion Fernando Montiel and Filipino dynamo Nonito Donaire. This may be the most explosive 118-pound encounter since Carlos Zarate and Alfonso Zamora met in an over-the-weight match in 1977 and if Montiel-Donaire even approaches those pyrotechnics, we'll be in for a treat. Donaire is nearly a 2-1 favorite. Each man's CompuBox histories revealed factors that could affect the outcome. 

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Thunderdome: Montiel vs. Donaire

by Nat Gottlieb

Photo: Top Rank

Although Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire's fight on Feb. 19 is scheduled for 12 rounds, each feels confident of putting down his opponent well before the final bell rings. Will it be Donaire, the Filipino whose stunning 5th round stoppage of previously unbeaten Vic Darchinyan in 2007 was named "Knockout of the Year"? Or pint-size Fernando Montiel, who hits with the kick of mule and is one of the most feared punchers in the game?

Read more on HBO.com