By Allan Cerf
On 21 April live in Belfast, Ireland, it’s Ireland’s Carl “The Jackal” Frampton vs. Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire.
Background: Nonito Donaire must have suffered a long time from proof of the adage: somewhere, someone in this world is better than you. A blindingly fast boxer-puncher, he came up against a guy like himself but whose amp went to ’11,’ Cuba’s Rigondeaux and while it wasn’t quite as one sided as (Harold) Lederman of HBO had it, there was no doubt that Rigondeaux won. I think this as much as anything slowed the progress in his career. I believe without the Rigondeaux defeat, Donaire may well have achieved the top spot on the shelf reserved for him by HBO. As matters stand, this San Leandro resident just 20 minutes from my former home in Cali, is up against a tough opponent, doubters, Father Time…and deadliest of all, waning interest.
Fighter’s Scorecards: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)
Carl Frampton: B B- B C+ B- B+ B- (Average of all) B-
Nonito Donaire: A B+ B B+ B- B B+ (Average of all) B+
Reality Check: Carl Frampton has, in my opinion, lack of focus to blame for the loss of his ‘O,’ as I think he simply didn’t anticipate Leo Santa Cruz adopting new tactics after losing the first of their two fights. For someone as intelligent as Frampton – that was unspeakably stupid. He also is, I feel, UGH – one of these thirty somethings who’s a bit too happy to sit on laurels that aren’t all that awesome. Yes, the Santa Cruz win was tremendous. No, nothing else he’s done is remotely close.
Because of the jazz I wrote above, this fight’s a career opportunity which one man must seize and leave no doubt as it won’t come again. Your thirties, the shrinks say, are it. THE years when you accomplish the most.
There’s simply no reason for either pugilist to be overcautious. What’s better? Donaire’s still-sharp athleticism, or Frampton’s ring generalship and solid fundamentals? The reflex battle should belong to the older Donaire. Donaire’s arms are considerably longer, too. Frampton may be fresher and mentally stronger and is very likely to sway judges to grant him close rounds in a fight in his native Belfast – surprise, surprise. I’d say Donaire has much more experience and has had MUCH better competition. Toughness? Take nothing from a guy who says a single street separated angry Protestants and Catholics! Indeed, based on the ghost of Rigondeaux still haunting Nonito, I award the mental toughness edge to the Irishman. In a relatively close fight, this may be critical.
Fight and Prediction: Yikes. In terms of raw talent and experience and yes, KO power, everything points towards the ‘Flash,’ yet close rounds in Belfast are going to Frampton – period. Whoever loses this fight is REALLY screwed in terms of career opportunities, perhaps becoming an elite gatekeeper. I’m going for broke - and say Donaire by TKO, eleven.