Somebody up there saves Nonito Donaire Jr.

By Alex P. Vidal

“Boxing is real easy. Life is much harder.”— Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

FIL-AM boxing superstar Nonito “Flash” Donaire Jr. (42-7, 28 KOs) should thank his lucky stars above his WBC, WBA and IBF bantamweight unification duel against unbeaten Naoya “Monster” Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) was halted in the second stanza in Saitama, Japan on June 7.

Had the fight, scheduled for 12 rounds, prolonged, the 39-year-old pugilist from Talibon, Bohol would have incurred a life-threatening injury.

In his age, one knockdown was fatal; two knockdowns were enough; three knockdowns would have been too much—especially if he was decked by a lethal punch with the impact and sound of a dynamite.

In boxing, if a fighter has been downed by a solid punch on the face it meant he was in bad shape when he went down.

Fighters of Donaire’s caliber normally kiss the canvas only after absorbing a punishment from a barrage of punches.

In the first round against the Japanese “Monster”, the Filipino champion fell from Inoue’s wicked right in the last 10 seconds that landed with a murderous collision.

The referee’s decision to halt the potential criminal act was superb and laudable.

God must be merciful He didn’t allow quality athletes like Donaire Jr. to bow out from the breathtaking race with their faculties dismantled beyond repair.


The unification bout would have ended by a first round knockout win for the smaller but more durable and younger Inoue, 28.

But Donaire Jr., with vengeance in his heart and mind after losing to the same charismatic Japanese dynamo by 12-round unanimous decision (117–109, 116–111, and 114-113) on November 8, 2019 also in Japan, was saved by the bell.

It turned out the first round knockdown was a portent of things to come for the deteriorating Donaire Jr.

In the second round, Team Inoue smell blood and egged the “Monster” to pressure the “Flash” and chase the Filipino visitor from pillar to post with thunderous left hooks and right straights to the face.

Still hurt and confused, Donaire Jr tried to mount a kamikaze attack but couldn’t stop on his tracks the aggressive hometown favorite who charged in and swarmed over the dazed Filipino bantamweight hero like a house on fire.

Lady luck smiled at Inoue as he accelerated his attack and finally landed a vicious left hook followed by a flurry of heavy and accurate shots to Donaire’s face who collapsed and wasn’t anymore allowed to participate in the contest at 1:24 of the second round.


Inoue, who tipped the scale at 118, unified the WBC, WBA and IBF bantamweight belts and didn’t disappoint the partisan crowd.

The Filipino “Flash”, who weighed in at 117.5, impaired to his seventh defeat, with two KOs.

“I intended to be one-sidedly victorious like this. I did it,” screamed the jubilant Inoue, currently regarded as one of the greatest fighters in Japan in the class of Fighting Harada, Hiroki Ioka, and Jiro Watanabe

There was nothing to feel bad about for Donaire Jr., who is actually up for retirement. Like Senator Manny Pacquiao, he has given the world of boxing some of the most memorable performances that earned him a “Fighter of the Year” plum during his salad days.

In 2007, Donaire Jr. became the first prizefighter to inflict tremendous punishment on arrogant and undefeated world flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan scoring a spectacular one-punch fifth round disposal.

He repeated the trick in the rematch with a ninth-round knockout to permanently silence the loud-mouthed Armenian in November 2013.

After a series of lackluster performances that prompted some well-meaning fans and experts to question his decision to keep on fighting while Father Time has beckoned, Donaire Jr. pulled a king-sized surprise by bagging the WBC bantanweight crown with a masterful fourth-round KO win against Nordine Oubaali in Carson, California on May 21, 2021 when he was already 38.

The disaster in Saitama might put an abrupt end on Donaire Jr.’s amazing professional career.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)