Nonito Donaire’s sixth-round stoppage loss to Jamaican knockout artist Nicholas Walters really hit me hard, in the same manner I got very hurt after Manny Pacquiao was knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth fight in December 2012.
It looks like the sixth round was a jinx for both fighters, but that’s not what this column is all about.
Although I saw Donaire having a chance against Walters, I still felt that the Filipino would lose if he fails to be 70-percent of what he was when he sowed terror in the ring until the end of 2012.
But by taking on Walters, Donaire proved one thing: Filipino fighters can be too brave for comfort. And when Pacquiao agreed to take on Marquez for a fourth time, you have to admire the PacMan for being too brave for comfort, too.
After his loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux on April 2013, somebody should have warned Donaire to steer clear of formidable fighters over the next 12 months, and Walters was one of them. When I wrote in a previous column about Donaire facing Walters, never did I suggest he faced the Jamaican knockout artist after he beat Simpiwe Vetyeka.
Take the case of Fernando Montiel, who was stopped brutally in the second round in his fight against Donaire on February 2011.
After losing to Donaire, Montiel took on lighter opposition which included Filipino Jaderes Padua, whom he easily disposed. But just imagine if Montiel took on Rigondeaux, Walters or even Vic Darchinyan after losing to Donaire?
Now 35 years old and having won eight of his nine bouts, including four by stoppage, it looks like Montiel can break into the elite ranks anew with renewed confidence even if he will still be known as a “Donaire knockout victim.”
Heck, even Jorge Arce, another Donaire knockout victim, took on no-name opposition to compile three straight knockouts before gallantly losing to compatriot Jhonny Gonzales in October 10 this year for the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title.
Perhaps Donaire’s misfortune was he had to live in the shadow of Pacquiao, and a lot was expected from him from 2013 after Pacquiao lost to Marquez by knockout. So taking on Rigondeaux, a former amateur standout from Cuba, was the logical thing to do to catapult the Donaire to stardom, if the Filipino wins.
But after Donaire lost to Rigondeaux, the next logical thing for the Filipino was take on lighter opposition and avoid making him a possible stepping stone for up-and-coming fighters, like Walters.
I even believe pitting Donaire against Darchinyan for the second time was risky, because the Armenian was carrying with him so much anger from their first fight. And while Donaire did win against Vetyeka, the next “safest” opponent for Donaire at the championship level would have been Gonzalez, the current WBC featherweight king.
But alas, Filipino boxers can be too brave for comfort, as proven by Donaire and Pacquiao. Just imagine the future of Donaire and the current standing of Pacquiao had they not absorbed their knockout losses?
The sad thing about Pacquiao and Donaire is I have yet to see anybody like them among the current crop of up and coming Filipino fighters, or those who currently have international or regional titles.
Beside being highly explosive and quick fighters during their peak, Pacquiao and Donaire were brave enough to mix it up with the opposition, and were tactical in the ring.
But Pacquiao and Donaire can still hold their heads up high: Pacquiao won his first championship at 19 years old, and Donaire at 23 years old.
I also wonder if Walters can ever duplicate Donaire’s “reign of terror” or the Filipino’s impressive body of work up to the end of 2012? And I doubt it if Marquez can rank higher than Pacquiao among the list of the sport’s greatest.
Can Donaire still recover? That will be my topic in next week’s column.