by Lee Groves/CompuBox
"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.
Donaire's faster engine: Although both throw fewer punches than the 60.4 bantamweight average, Donaire's output is nearer the norm. In his lone 118-pound fight against Wladimir Sidorenko Donaire averaged 59.2 punches and in eight CompuBox tracked fights he averaged 51.6. Meanwhile, Montiel averaged just 36.7 punches per round in five bantamweight bouts and 45.7 in 13 bouts overall at 115 and 118, far below the combined divisional average of 58.
Power punching accuracy: This may be pivotal, for Donaire lands a far higher percentage of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts. Donaire went 52 of 97 (53.6 percent) against Sidorenko, an eye-popping 112 of 155 (72.3 percent) against Rafael Concepcion, 61 of 125 (48.8 percent) against Raul Martinez, 112 of 249 (45 percent) against Luis Maldonado and 44 of 109 (40.4 percent) against Vic Darchinyan.
Meanwhile, Montiel's figures are more modest but no less destructive shot for shot. He landed 37.8 percent (34 of 90) against Rafael Concepcion, 31.1 percent (28 of 90) against Diego Silva, 31.3 percent against Luis Maldonado (112 of 134), 41.1 percent agaisnt Martin Castillo (53 of 129) and 35.3 percent against Luis Melendez (196 of 556).
Montiel vs. taller men and southpaws: At 5-6 with a 68-inch reach, Donaire's advantages are two inches and one-and-a-half inches respectively. Add Donaire's ability to switch and one can surmise, given Montiel's history, that the champ's in trouble.
Hozumi Hasegawa dominated by keeping the fight at long range and piling up advantages of 41-26 (overall) and 31-21 (power connects). He out-threw Montiel 196-133 and landed 42 percent of his power shots to Montiel's 22.8 percent. But two sweeping hooks late in the fourth sparked a flurry that forced Laurence Cole to intervene at 2:59 of the fourth.
Montiel was fortunate to escape with a technical draw against 5-8 1/2 lefty Alejandro Valdez. After suffering an early knockdown, Valdez baffled Montiel with long-armed blows. He out-threw Montiel 192-120, out-landed him 54-31, out-jabbed him 15-4 and landed 36 percent of his power punches (39 of 107) to Montiel's 30 percent (27 of 89).
Friendly officials also played a role in the result. A clean knockdown of Montiel was ignored in the second and although Montiel's swollen eye seemed well tended the physician ended the fight in the third, perhaps to avoid a technical decision scenario that Montiel might have lost.
Donaire has the equipment to exploit this weakness, though it would be wise to switch instead of attempting to fight as a full-time lefty as he did against Hernan Marquez.
Common opponents: On paper, Montiel out-performed Donaire in beating Rafael Concepcion (KO 3 vs. W 12) and Luis Maldonado (KO 3 vs. KO 8), but Donaire produced the superior stats.
Against Concepcion, Donaire landed 44 percent overall and 72.3 percent (power) to Montiel's 37.6 and 37.8 percent - and Donaire achieved them over more rounds. Donaire's edges against Maldonado were similar (31.9 percent overall, 45.0 percent power to 27.5 percent overall, 31.3 percent power) though Maldonado met Donaire six months earlier than Montiel in back-to-back fights.
Moving on Up: Three pounds' difference may seem small, but for Montiel it looms large. In eight fights at 115, Montiel and his opponents averaged almost identical outputs (47.7 to 47.6) but Montiel enjoyed a plus-6.3 gap in power percentage (34.8 to 28.5). He averaged 12.3 jabs per round and landed 16.8 percent of them to his opponents' 18.7 jabs and 16.1 percent connect rate.
In five bantamweight fights, Montiel's output plummeted 23 percent to 36.7 while his rivals averaged 44.4, though Montiel's overall accuracy gap rose (plus-7.3 now vs. plus-6.4 then). Montiel throws fewer jabs now (9.9 from 12.3) but his accuracy is up (22.3 from 16.8). Tellingly, Montiel's power percentage gap dropped from a plus-6.3 to a minus-2.4 (31.5 to 33.9). With a puncher like Donaire, that's bad news, especially since the added weight enhanced his power against Sidorenko.
Prediction: Younger, bigger and stronger usually beats smaller, older fighters who have issues with height and speed. While Montiel's power will always be a wild card, Donaire's skills and freshness will prevail via eighth round TKO.