Make or break for Donaire

Conrad M. Cariño

Conrad M. Cariño

While it appears Manny Pacquiao will have no problems dealing with Jessie Vargas when they square off on November 5, the battle between Nonito Donaire and Jessie Magdaleno on the same card is definitely more interesting.

In fact, I see the Donaire-Magdaleno fight as a “make or break” fight for the Filipino, because a win will surely line him up for bigger fights. But a loss will set him back one or two years, especially if it is by stoppage or lopsided decision.

Donaire has registered four wins since losing to Nicholas Walters by stoppage in November 2014. Except for Cesar Juarez who he dropped two times before winning a close decision, Donaire has stopped William Prado, Anthony Settoul and Zsolt Bedak. His record is now 37-3 with 24 knockouts.

Magdaleno, on the other hand, has an unblemished record of 23-0 with 17 KOs and is the World Boxing Organization world super bantamweight champion. He is only 24 years old or about nine years younger than Donaire.

Although Magdaleno’s southpaw stance will present some problems for Donaire because “left hookers” are easier targets for southpaw fighters, the Filipino will enter the ring the slightly bigger man. Also, the championship experience of Donaire will be a big factor in the fight, as Magdaleno has yet to face the type opponents the Filipino fought at the championship level.

Magdaleno’s last two opponents, whom he both stopped, have records of 14-12-1 with 9 KOs and 20-8 with 5 KOs. Never mind their names.

So far, Donaire’s best showing since losing to Walters is surprisingly his slugfest with Juarez (now 18-5 with 14 KOs). The Filipino decked the Mexican twice before injuring his foot in the sixth round that somehow affected his performance until the 12th round. In his latest fight, Juarez stopped promising Filipino fighter Albert Pagara (then undefeated) in the sixth round.

In the Juarez fight, it was evident Donaire’s left hook remains a very potent weapon and his right cross looks more polished.

So can we conclude at this point that Magdaleno will be Donaire’s next stoppage or knockout victim? I wish…

Something a bit negative going for Donaire entering the Magdaleno fight is his father, Nonito Sr., resigning as his trainer. In the elder Nonito’s place is Ismael Salas from Cuba, the current trainer of Donaire’s nemesis Guillermo Rigondeaux. Salas’ former wards include once promising Yuriorkis Gamboa and current World Boxing Association world flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka.

And I may be jumping into a conclusion by saying this – can a trainer whose country produces mostly counter punchers be the perfect choice for an offensive fighter like Donaire?

Let’s face it – Filipino boxers are known for their offensive fighting style and they even like to slug it out sometimes like the Mexicans. Very few outstanding Filipino boxers are counter punchers like Gerry Penalosa.

From the videos I have seen on Magdaleno, he can present a stiff challenge to Donaire because of his hand speed, combinations and footwork. And he is nine years younger than Donaire.

But then, Donaire is also on a roll and his championship experience entering the ring can never be discounted by Magdaleno and his handlers.

So this is a very interesting fight compared to Pacquiao-Vargas.


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