Since his stoppage loss to Nicholas Walters in October 2014, Nonito Donaire has racked up four successive wins with three of them inside the distance. His lone decision win was a see-saw battle that saw him deck a very tough Cesar Juarez two times. So in his four recent fights, Donaire scored a total of nine knockdowns – not bad for a fighter whom some quarters wrote off since losing to Walters and Guillermo Rigondeaux in April 2013.
But where does Donaire go from here?
Obviously a title fight with the top boxers in the junior featherweight division should be in the offing and that division is teaming with talent.
The Ring magazine online currently ranks Donaire at No. 4 in the junior featherweight division but there is still no champion named. Rigondeaux is currently at No. 1 followed by Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg both from the United Kingdom. Genesis Servania from the Philippines rounds up the top five, while compatriot Albert Pagara is at No. 6.
As for potential aspirants to the division from the featherweight ranks, only Shinsuke Yamanaka of Japan looks like a formidable contender.
While Donaire immediately called out his nemesis Rigondeaux after beating Zolt Bedak of Hungary over the weekend, it may be a wiser move to seek a match with either Quigg or Frampton. But Frampton has other plans because he has inked a fight against World Boxing Association Super World featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz which is a logical move because Frampton beat compatriot Quigg via split decision in February this year.
Donaire taking on Rigondeaux may also look logical at this point but the Cuban is not a top boxing draw compared to Quigg who enjoys a following from the Manchester crowd in the UK. In fact, the live audience of the Quigg-Frampton fight was so huge, it looked like two heavyweights were clashing.
Quigg also has a style that fits Donaire, because the boxer from the UK prefers to face his opponent and box. On the other hand, Rigondeaux is a counterpuncher whose style is a nightmare to Donaire.
But let’s face it – Donaire is aching to avenge his loss to Rigondeaux and he might prefer trying to avenge that loss instead of retiring and not facing the Cuban the second time around in the ring.
At 33 years old, Donaire should carefully plan his next moves in the next years to come. And for sure, he wants to finish his career on a positive note, or without suffering another crushing loss.
Although his left hook remains potent and his right cross has improved, Donaire is no longer the fighter who sowed terror in the flyweight to junior featherweight divisions a few years back. His losses to Rigondeaux and Walters may have dented part of his confidence level too.
So the one thing I hate to see is Donaire announcing his retirement after absorbing another loss at the championship level, whether by decision or stoppage.
But there is no denying Donaire will be ranked as among the top five greatest boxers the Philippines has produced, and even among the top 10 in the era dominated by Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Donaire may not be at the crossroads now – what needs to be done is for him to get a big-name opponent into the ring and win decisively, so he can get more attractive bouts.