Ever since 2007, when “The Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs) scored a spectacular one-punch knock out over the then undefeated Flyweight champion of the world, Vic Darchinyan; Donaire has skyrocketed up in the ranks all the way to the top pound for pound fighters on the planet. Before his career changing moment against Darchinyan, Donaire was an unheard of, number eight ranked Flyweight in the world, who already had a loss on his resume. The Sunday following Donaire’s jaw dropping knockout he was the talk of the boxing world. Many wondered how such an immensely talented fighter could have gone without notice. Since then, he’s exceeded expectations time and time again, regardless of how talented his opposition has been. Donaire is now a three division world champion and is the reigning IBF-WBO Super Bantamweight champion of the world. This Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California however has numerous experts and boxing aficionados alike smelling an upset for the Filipino sensation.
Former WBC Super Bantamweight world champion, Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs), is the culprit responsible for those sentiments. Nishioka hasn’t lost a fight since 2004 and at 36, an age when most fighters are in decline, Nishioka appears to be peaking. Before being unjustly stripped of his world championship, Nishioka was on a terrific streak of seven successful title defenses. The two most noteworthy victories of those seven defenses were against former world champion Jhonny Gonzalez and future hall-of-famer Rafael Marquez last year in Las Vegas. Other than those two mentioned bouts, all of Nishioka’s other defenses were held in his native Japan. Thus the reason why Nishioka flies under the radar here in America, not because of his talent.
This is the first time in over a year since Donaire landed an astonishing left hook to score a 2nd round knockout to secure the Bantamweight world championship against former world champion, Fernando Montiel, that insiders are torn over the outcome of a Nonito Donaire fight. That truly speaks to the respect Nishioka is rightfully receiving heading into this bout. Stylistically, Nishioka is a very technically sound fighter. He fights out of the southpaw stance with a high guard, occasionally dropping the right hand when pulling out to avoid and slip punches, and he predominantly moves side to side in a nice rhythm. Nishioka is very good defensively, however he rarely throws punches in the midst of avoiding them. In other words: he’s either punching or dodging punches, he rarely does both simultaneously. Offensively, Nishioka isn’t too shabby, he’s not nearly as gifted as Donaire is, but he knows how to set up his punches, particularly his left hand down the middle. Nishioka has some pop too, but he is not a one punch knockout artist like Donaire is.
Nishioka scoring a KO is highly unlikely, his only chance is to win a decision. Donaire has a very good chin, and it’d take a fighter with more punching power than Nishioka to put Donaire down for a ten count. Nishioka’s best bet of pulling off the upset would be to try and frustrate Donaire with his movement, stay away from the dynamite and pop shot Donaire when the opportunity presents itself. Which isn’t very different than the typical style Nishioka fights in, so he won’t be an old dog attempting new tricks. Fighting in such a way truly is the best game plan against Nonito Donaire, particularly right now. Although Donaire has decisively won three straight decisions since knocking out Montiel in 2011, his critics have noted that he may be falling in love with the knock out too much. Indeed there may be some validity to that, Donaire throws almost every punch with knockout intentions,but the force he puts on his blows do not detract from his blazing hand speed. So, it isn’t as big a detriment as it normally is for other fighters.
However, with a fighter like Nishioka, just hunting for the knockout all night may just play into his hands. If Nishioka only has to be cautious of one bomb at a time, it heightens his chances to outbox and frustrate Donaire. What will be Nishioka’s downfall however, is the previously mentioned trait he has in that he’s either throwing punch or evading them. Nishioka is likely to make Donaire miss, but will he make him pay for it with counter punches? History says no, if he combats Donaire the way he’s fought most of his career Nishioka could very well walk into one of Donaire’s big shots and become another highlight-reel knockout victim. When Nishioka does let his hands go, he lunges in, not wildly, but he does lunge. When he lunges in to try and land, the faster, more explosive Donaire could have a bout ending counter punch up his sleeve, and that is the scenario BRB sees playing out. However, if Nishioka decides to survive instead of go for the victory, then Donaire may not have the opportunities presented to him to score a knockout. Nishioka is a very solid fighter and he deserves this main event slot on HBO against one of the most decorated fighters in the sport. Indeed he’s very solid, but Donaire is on another level, the highest in the sport.
BRB’S PREDICTION: Donaire, mid round stoppage.