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.

PunchStat Report: Donaire UD12 Narvaez

By CompuBox

Did Narvaez come to New York to win or survive? He threw 24 punches per round and landed 6. The bantamweight average is 60 thrown per round.

Donaire Wins Decision, Loses Crowd

By Hamilton Nolan

Photo: Ed MulhollandNonito Donaire has the quickest feet in boxing. He also has some of the quickest hands in boxing. He has superb balance, he can punch from every angle, and he shows occasional flashes of Roy Jones-esque transcendence of style, dancing in and out of a realm that only the most talented boxers in the world can ever hope to experience. But he’s not a complete fighter. And though he easily earned a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Argentinian Omar Narvaez (35-1) tonight-- winning every round--his performance will surely go down as a disappointment.


Four Fights, Four Questions

By Kieran Mulvaney

The HBO boxing calendar for 2011 enters its home stretch with four major fights, including one on World Championship Boxing and two on HBO Pay Per View. As is always the case with strong and intriguing matchups, each poses intriguing questions:

Nonito Donaire v Omar Narvaez for a bantamweight title
(October 22, Boxing After Dark)

Photo Credit: Chris FarinaFour years ago, Nonito Donaire burst into the limelight with a devastating knockout of favored Vic Darchinyan, only to spend the next several years in supporting bouts and off-Broadway roles. Last February, he was spectacular in knocking out Fernando Montiel, but since then he has been inactive, largely due to promotional issues. Those issues have now been resolved, and the way is clear for Donaire to do what many think he will and seize a place at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings. With all due respect to Narvaez, this is a showcase bout for Donaire, an opportunity for him to shine and put together back-to-back impressive performances on HBO. Will he seize that opportunity and set the Donaire Era well and truly in motion?


Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez for a welterweight title
(November 12, HBO Pay Per View)

Photo Credit: Will HartMarquez has twice come within a hair of defeating Pacquiao, and many ringside observers (including this one) thought he eked out victory on both occasions. Three and a half years after their last encounter, Marquez has another chance, but whereas their previous fight was at junior lightweight, this will be at welterweight. Pacquiao has grown steadily into the 147 lb. division, whereas Marquez looked flabby and slow in his one outing in the division, against Floyd Mayweather in 2009. Will the extra weight prove too much, or will Marquez prove that he has the Filipino’s number yet again?


Miguel Cotto v Antonio Margarito for a junior middleweight title
(December 3, HBO Pay Per View)

Photo Credit: Will HartMargarito’s dramatic 2008 win over Cotto was tarnished when, immediately prior to his next bout (against Shane Mosley) his hand wraps were found to be tampered with.  Given the way he beat Cotto down after falling behind early, many observers have long suspected that his wraps were weighted on that occasion, too. Will a second Margarito victory demonstrate that he is able to beat Cotto fair and square – and suggest that maybe he did so before? Or will Cotto this time prove resistant to his foe’s hands, and gain his revenge?


Amir Khan v Lamont Peterson for two junior welterweight titles
(December 10, World Championship Boxing)

Photo Credit: Will HartIn his three previous appearances on American soil, Britain’s Khan has been dominant against Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah, and engaged in the 2010 fight of the Year against Marcos Maidana. He is undefeated since his shock 2008 knockout loss to Breidis Prescott and is being mentioned as a possible 2012 opponent for Floyd Mayweather. He has spoken often of moving up to welterweight after this bout in search of bigger opponents. But Peterson is a legitimate opponent who, like Khan, has just one defeat on his ledger, and he’ll be fighting in his Washington, D.C. hometown. Can Khan keep focused on the task in hand, avoid the potential pitfall of looking too far ahead, and position himself for bigger and better things in the coming year?


Post your own answers to these questions in the comments below, and if you sign in with Twitter be sure to include @hboboxing to join the ongoing conversation.