It’s make or break for Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. as he returns to the squared circle on Saturday for the latest edition of the popular boxing card Pinoy Pride at the Araneta Coliseum. Simply put, if the former multi-division champion wants to make it back, he has to break with impunity Brazilian William Prado.
Donaire Jr. is lacing on the gloves some five months after suffering a numbing six-round knockout defeat to Jamaican mauler Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters that cost him his portion of the World Boxing Association featherweight (126 pounds) crown. Acknowledging his mortality at featherweight, Donaire Jr. is returning to the junior featherweight division (122 pounds) for his comeback fight opposite Prado. Nonito’s father and trainer, Nonito Donaire Sr., is also working on bringing back the old Filipino Flash. “Nung time kasi na nagkahiwalay kami, naiba yung style niya and he relied on his power punches. Naging ordinary fighter siya,” Donaire Sr. told this writer. “I told him hindi magwo-work yun. Nawala na yung body language niya. Ngayon, bumabalik na siya sa dating style niya. I told him hindi ka tatagal sa boxing kung lagi kang tinatamaan. Ang buhay mo ay nakasalalay sa pag-iwas sa mga suntok.”
Donaire Jr. (33-3, 21 knockouts) has lost two of his last four fights. His fistic depreciation started in April 2013, when he was outboxed by Cuban Guillermo Rigondeux in unification bout for the junior featherweight crown. Donaire Jr. was reduced to a homerun hitter in the Rigondeux fight, a style he stubbornly pursued until he ran smack into power hitter Walters. The loss to Walters was far from being an ambush as Donaire Jr. had shown signs of decay going into the fight. He struggled in the rematch with Vic Darchinyan in November 2013 and benefitted from a cut in carving out a technical decision win over Simpiwe Vetyeka in May 2014.
Brazilian Prado (22-4, 15 knockouts) is a live underdog for the reason that Donaire Jr. is coming in an enigma. The 31-year-old Prado has only won three of his last six fights and is coming off an 11-month hiatus. In June 2013, Prado was stopped in three rounds by Scott Quigg who now reigns as the WBA regular junior featherweight king. Prado is a straight-ahead fighter who loves to throw wide but ferocious body punches. While he loves to keep both gloves close to his face, Prado’s defense is suspect and can be effectively penetrated by searing jabs as evidenced by his debacle in the hands of Quigg.
Donaire Jr. claims that he started hitting the gym just two months after the loss to Walters. The idea is to not dwell on the loss and get back in shape immediately. Still, going into the fight with Prado, word is that Donaire Jr. is still struggling to meet the 122-pound limit. The fight with Prado is set for 12 rounds for the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) junior featherweight strap.
The 32-year-old Donaire Jr. is under immense pressure to win as he himself acknowledged that another loss could very well mean retirement. Donaire Jr. has been on a free-fall since the Rigondeaux fight and is diligently working to arrest the slide opposite Prado. If he prevails, Donaire Jr. is reportedly mulling a showdown with undefeated World Boxing Council junior featherweight king Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico. Another run at the featherweight crown is also not discounted, ditto a rematch with Rigondeaux. First things first though, Prado will have to be dispatched with aplomb. “I feel good, I feel mean,” Donaire Jr. assured this writer.
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