By John J. Raspanti
In the real world, Nonito Donaire, at almost 36, is young. In the squared circle however, where the truth can rear its head in a brutal way, he’s old.
Some boxers can fight well into their thirties, without a noticeable dip in skill. Most cannot. Age is one thing, wear and tear is another.
Donaire has had a wonderful boxing career. He’s won four titles in four different weight divisions. He’s always anxious to fight the best, which explains his loses to former champions Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nicholas Walters, Jesse Magdaleno, and Carl Frampton. His left hand still packs dynamite—starching Vic Darchinyan in 2007 to win his first world title, and separating former super bantamweight Jorge Arce from his senses five years later.
The punch is a game-changer. Just ask Darchinyan, who thought he was on his way to defeating Donaire in a rematch until Donaire caught him with the same punch that had knocked him out six years earlier.
Same punch, same result. Donaire fought well at times against Frampton, but he was a step behind during most rounds. The loss was his second in his three fights. His fade was pretty obvious.
He appeared to be suffering from an opponent no athlete can beat, Father Time. The great Joe Louis described it this way:
"I could see the openings, but my right hand couldn’t see them.”
That Father Time guy is a cruel opponent. He sneaks up on a fighter and takes away his or her greatest strength--reflexes. You have to have ’em, especially boxing. A millisecond can get you--or your rival-- knocked out.
Then there’s Ryan Burnett, Donaire’s opponent on November 3. The lad from Ireland won 94 of 98 fights as an amateur. He’s 26, with a baby face. Not a wrinkle in sight. He’s considered the future while Donaire is seen as the past. You know, a relic. Burnett picked up his first world title last year—and added another seven months later.
He’s never lost and he is loaded with confidence.
“I picked Nonito, because the better the fighter the better I become. I am close to have everything I ever wanted in life,” Burnett said at a press conference last month. “That’s why I have this mad hunger to smash through every single object in front of me. And I will!”
Donaire is dropping down two weight divisions to fight Burnett. Gutsy, and perhaps a little crazy. He did it to compete in the World Boxing Super Series.
As I said earlier, the guy is a real fighter.
“I have pretty much achieved everything in boxing,” Donaire (38-5, 24 KOs) said.
I’ll admit right here that a part of me will be pulling for Donaire to win this Saturday. Maybe Donaire can land one more explosive left hook. That’s what it will take to defeat the quicker and fresher Burnett.
Maybe old meanie Father Time will be in Donaire’s corner, and help him out.
Maybe, just maybe…