Every great boxer has their time to realize when to hang the gloves up, and Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire passed the torch to the undefeated “Monster” Naoya Inoue in their rematch on June 7th.
Donaire, 39, was once in Inoue’s shoes, the most explosive and powerful young knockout artist in the bantamweight division, but father time waits for no man and the once energetic champion who would get in and out and counter with quick accuracy showed his age on Tuesday night.
We have to take into account that Donaire is 39-years-old, that is long in the tooth for a fighter who fights at 118 pounds a division where fighters rely on speed and quickness.
When I watched the Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire fights, I saw a man who was outmatched both times. The first time they fought Donaire had some moments but it wasn’t enough, he was fighting off experience and being crafty to survive but he was a step slower and the younger Japanese fighter had youth on his side. The first fight went the distance and it was sort of a moral victory for Donaire that this unbeatable knockout artist couldn’t stop him.
Donaire would go on to beat undefeated Frenchman Nordine Oubaali by shocking knockout in the fourth round to capture the WBC bantamweight belt and that win gave people the confidence that Donaire would do something different even at the age of 38 against Inoue in a rematch.
He was even being compared to the great Manny Pacquiao who won a world title at 40 against Keith Thurman, but Pacquiao is built tough, his bone structure and build helps him take punishment from much bigger men, whereas Donaire has a narrow frame and doesn’t have the ability to absorb punishment like Pacquiao.
In the rematch, Inoue did what any younger and stronger foe should do to an aging champion who is already past their prime, take them out quick and early, put them out of their misery instead of dragging it out to deep waters to cause prolonged damage.
In a way Inoue did Donaire a favor by stopping him in round two, he knocked the older fighter out early so he didn’t take as much damage, but at the same time Donaire could see this as a reason to keep fighting and cope with the loss by saying well he just caught me and I didn’t take much damage so I can still fight.
I hope Donaire ponders retirement. He has nothing left to prove, he is already a first ballot hall of famer, and has shown he has a high boxing IQ and could easily transition to a trainer or manager role. It’s sad to see once great fighters continue on fighting, many times the tragedy is they fight on too long and take too much damage that they end up slurring their words and no longer being able to function normally.
Donaire has many avenues to chose from like becoming a trainer, manager or even doing commentary. He has a family and has done so many great things in boxing. There is no shame in retirement when you have achieved what Nonito Donaire has.
Erwin Lastimosa is a long time boxing fan and enjoys boxing discussion with his peers. Some of his favorite fighters are Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Muhammad Ali, Flash Elorde, Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao.