Photos by Sumio Yamada
NONITO DONAIRE vs RAUL MARTINEZ
Fast and skilled Nonito Donaire, inactive for much of 2008 due to contractual issues, tops the bill on Saturdays Global Supremacy PPV show when he defends his IBF flyweight title against the undefeated Raul Martinez. In the other Philippines versus Mexico world title fight on the show, Ulises Solis defends his light-flyweight title against Brian Viloria.
Donaire, who lives at San Leandro, CA, has boxed only twice in the Philippines, the last time in November 2002, so this will be a homecoming event. Martinez will be doing his best to make sure the homecoming is not a triumphant one.
This fight, like the one between Solis and Viloria, should be an excellent, entertaining match. There has been no trash talking, no bad blood hype, just well-matched fights between talented boxers.
Donaire, 26, scored one of the most dramatic wins of recent years in the lighter weight divisions when he banged out Vic Darchinyan with a superb left hook in July 2007. He was impressive when stopping Mexican veteran Luis Maldonado in eight rounds but then had an 11-month spell of inactivity in which he broke from promoter Gary Shaw to be promoted by Top Rank, which stages Saturdays show.
I thought Donaire showed the effects of the layoff in his last fight when he didnt exactly sparkle in his sixth-round TKO win over Moruti Mthalane. Donaire was winning but his timing seemed to have suffered from inactivity, and he missed more than usual. It seemed that Mthalane was getting into the fight when the South African suffered a cut over the eye and the fight was stopped.
Donaire should be sharper on Saturday, which he will need to be as Martinez is an aggressive boxer-fighter who puts his punches together impressively and after 26 wins in a row is at the top of his form and ready for the fight of his life.
Martinez was a top-level amateur, winning two national titles and a Pan Am Games silver medal. He showed his grit and will-to-win on ShoBox a few years ago when, cut badly over the eye, he went right after Andres Ledesma and overwhelmed his Colombian opponent with a big last-round onslaught.
So far, Martinez has been dominating everyone. In his last fight he had a surprisingly easy win when running right over Victor Proa, a previously unbeaten boxer from Mexico, in just 68 seconds. Proa was wobbled by a right hand almost as soon as the fight started and Martinez was unloading a barrage of punches, with his opponent defenceless on the ropes, when the ropes, when the referee intervened.
I think that this result is a little misleading, because while Martinez can punch he isnt the big hitter that he seemed to be in this fight six of his last seven bouts before the fight with Proa had gone the limit.
Martinez, 27, will be bringing pressure, looking to get off his combinations, but I think that Donaire is a bit quicker and a more damaging puncher. I think that Donaires harder punches, the left hooks in particular, can separate him from Martinez in what should be a spirited meeting. Donaires movement might trouble the more straightforward challenger and Martinez could find himself getting hit much more than he is used to getting hit, while being made to miss more than is customary for him.
A slight concern is that Donaire has dropped his father, Nonito Sr., as his trainer. He is now working with Dodie Boy Penalosa, a former flyweight champ from the Philippines. Donaire seems comfortable with the change. I suspect that Donaire probably felt he just needed some fresh ideas to take his boxing to a higher level.
A strong, game, capable, unbeaten fighter with a solid amateur pedigree such as Martinez shouldnt be underestimated, but Donaire looks like the better, harder-hitting fighter, and he has home-ground advantage. I am expecting a close, competitive fight in the early rounds but I think that Donaire will gradually take command and come on strongly to win a clear decision.