Right after Nonito Donaire was beaten by Jamaican knockout artist Nicholas Walters on October 18, 2014, I suggested that his camp outline a path to recovery by taking on opposition outside of the elite or championship level in the next few fights.
This made sense because that was the path taken by Mexican fighters Fernando Montiel and Jhonny Gonzalez. Montiel has since racked up 10 wins in 11 fights with five stoppages since losing to Donaire via second round knockout on February 19, 2011.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, knocked out Abner Mares in the first round on August 24, 2013 to collar the World Boxing Council featherweight championship. Notably, Gonzalez should have been written off as a future champion after he was stopped by Toshiaki Nishioka on May 23, 2009 in the third round. In between losing to Nishioka and beating Mares, Gonzalez did not take on really tough opposition.
So this weekend in Manila, Donaire takes on William Prado from Brazil who totes a record of 22-4 with 15 knockouts. While Prado’s record looks like he can also punch because of his 15 knockouts, the Brazilian fighter’s stoppage victims have been so-so boxers. In fact, his last knockout victim was Marcelo Bispo, who was making his professional debut when he fought Prado on April 12, 2014.
Prior to the Bispo fight, Prado suffered his first knockout loss in the third round to Scott Quigg on June 29, 2013. It so happens Quigg, who is from the United Kingdom, is still undefeated with 30 wins and 22 KOs, is the reigning World Boxing Association world junior featherweight champion (118 pounds), and is No. 3 among the contenders in The Ring’s rankings for the division.
Now that Donaire is 32 years old, his camp cannot afford any miscalculation on his way back to the top. And a win over Prado is one small step in the right direction.
This early, however, Donaire’s camp can start “sizing up” possible world champions at junior featherweight to take on after three or more “recovery” or “tune up” bouts.
But one thing is for sure – the junior featherweight division is heavily laden with talent.
Quigg can be a future opponent for Donaire, although the he can be a dangerous one, because he is 5’8” and has been the WBA champion since June 2012.
In The Ring rankings, the top contender is Carl Frampton also from UK, who is undefeated with 20 wins and 14 KOs, and at No. 2 is Leo Sta. Cruz (29-0-1 with 17 KOs) who is officially listed as fighting out of the United States.
The Ring champion for the division is Donaire’s nemesis Guillermo Rigondeaux (15-0 with 10 KOs).
There are also two Filipinos in The Ring’s top 10 list of contenders for the division: Genesis Servania (26-0 with 11 KOs) at No. 4; and Albert Pagara (22-0 with 15 KOs) at No. 9. No way do I see Donaire, Servania or Pagara meeting each other in the ring, because that seems to be taboo among Filipino fighters at the elite level.
Donaire isn’t ranked in The Ring’s top 10 contenders for junior featherweight but is No. 6 in the featherweight (122 pounds) rankings.
At featherweight, Donaire looks challenged as evidenced in the Walters fight (or is Walters a freak of nature?). But at junior featherweight, Donaire can still prove he can pack a wallop in his fight against Prado this weekend.