By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
We often hear the phrase, “players win the game, coaches lose it” In basketball and perhaps most other team sports including soccer and baseball.
Simply explained it boils down to good execution and on the other end, poor planning, guidance and direction.
I believe the same is true in individual sports as boxing.
In my humble eyes as one who have followed boxing for the past more than fifty years now and have seen many major hard-fought ring contests held locally and abroad, the recent Inoue vs. Donaire barnburner of a title bout was decided by better pre-fight planning and fight time coaching.
As the fight progressed and went into the crucial moments of the so called championship rounds, it became more and more apparent to me that Inoue was following a general strategic plan prepared by his corner, with necessary adjustments of course, as he emerged not only “fresher” but also having more left in his tank for a strong windup starting the tenth round.
This ironically was after the ninth round where Nonito had his most successful moments, even staggering Inoue with bristling two fisted assault that nearly had the Japanese reeling and on the verge of hitting the canvas if not for Inoue clinching and hanging for survival.
Of course, Nonito and his corner got a rude surprise starting the tenth when instead of an Inoue who earlier was seen as ready for the taking, came out stronger and even retook the initiative and proceeded to attack Nonito with even more powerful combinations to the head that all hut deterred and snuff out his followup attempt for a knockdown or knockout.
It was almost the same pattern and scenario in the eleventh and penultimate round but Inoue, obviously following the instruction of his corner after seeing the weakening condition of Donaire, even up his pressure by timely introducing another dreaded weapon in his arsenal, body punching and we saw what happened next.
Nonito down on his knees and writhing in pain from a body shot that found its mark and literally took his breath away for quite a moment. To Nonito’s credit, he beat the count of the referee, Ernie Sharif who should be lauded for promptly getting in the way and preventing any potential damaging followup from Inoue as Donaire in delayed reaction to the body punch, gingerly traipsed across the ring before going down on one knee for the mandatory eight count.
The contest was practically decided right then and there.
Days after the fight, Nonito claimed he followed their fight plan and the instructions of his corner that included his father trainer Nonito Sr.
But I could forget what Nonito said before the fight which he correctly predicted would be a chess march. He said that his team had prepared a fight plan but he also would devise his own based on what Inoue would actually bring to the table and how the fight would proceed.
I wonder what plan he was executing especially in the crucial stages of the match when he had Inoue on the hook but allowed him to escape and when he himself was on the dire straits.
I will give him the benefit of the doubt but for my jaded eyes that have seen the magnificent likes of Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and our very own Manny Pacquiao who notwithstanding their greatness as fighters have been known for their abiding faith and obedience to their coaches and corner.
Certainly, Drew Bundini Brown, Angelo Dundee, Freddy Roach and Buboy Fernandez were not as great and popular as their wards but they have been a vital, integral part of their phenomenal success inside the ring.
Of course, Ali, Leonard and Manny have been on record as saying that their coaches have been instrumental in their success which they also described as total team effort.
I have also heard of or seen father trainers slapping their own boxer sons in their corner to sober them up to tje reality of a losing faith because of poor execution or non execution of the agreed fight plans and strategies. The Mancinis immediately come to mind.
The not too ideal relationship of Nonito Jr. to his father trainer is not a close secret. Their teaming up together again with generally successful results since his comeback and return to the bantamweight is an indication of an improved relationship.
But there is such a thing as staying on the same page.
With his team having a plan and Nonito saying he had his own and the fact that aside from Nonito Sr., there was also Kenny Adam as another of his trainer, reminds me of another common saying: Too many cooks spoil the broth.
I will be happy to be proven wrong.