Donaire’s inclusion in the pound-for-pound lists (The RING has him at #5, while Yahoo Sports has him at #9) has long been the subject of some debate between hardcore boxing fans, given the fact that, despite his obvious talent, Donaire’s only high-profile win was a 2007 5th round KO of Australia’s highly regarded Vic Darchinyan. Darchinyan (then 28-0 with 22 knockouts and himself an occupant of most pound-for-pound lists) was a feared puncher himself, yet Donaire obliterated him with a perfectly-timed counter left hook, simultaneously skyrocketing in the rankings of most fans and boxing writers.
Montiel, a future Hall of Famer at 44-2-2 (34 KO’s) and fellow pound-for-pound fighter (#7 at The RING, #10 at Yahoo Sports), was supposed to be the biggest test of Donaire’s career. Montiel entered the ring with an 8lb weight advantage (134lb to Donaire’s 126lb) and the momentum of a 4 fight KO streak.
The fight seemed to be shaping up as a high-speed, technical chess match in the first round as both fighters cautiously felt each other out. In the second round, it was Donaire who landed a few good right hands early and Montiel who came back to land a couple solid left hooks.
And then Fernando Montiel made a mistake, throwing a wide right hook at Donaire’s head. The punch landed, but not before Donaire saw an opening and launched a counter left hook. The punch landed squarely on the right side of Montiel’s face, violently spinning his head to the left and separating him from his senses. Montiel slumped to the canvas and landed on his back, arms and legs outstretched and eyes open, a shocked look on his face. The downed fighter’s arms and legs first twitched, then made swimming-type motions as Montiel regained consciousness.
Somehow, the tough Mexican fighter dragged his uncooperative body off the canvas, falling once again as his legs refused to support him. Montiel then willed himself to his feet one more time, beating the count and convincing the referee to allow him to continue. Donaire dashed across the ring and landed another left hook followed by a right hand before the ref stepped in and saved the semi-conscious Montiel from further damage.
This was Donaire’s second stoppage win over a recognized pound-for-pound fighter, and it appears that Donaire (26-1, 18 KO’s) will remain high on most lists for some time to come. His next step is likely a bantamweight unification bout with the winner of the April 23 matchup between Joseph Agbeko (28-2 with 22 KO’s) and Abner Mares (21-0-1 with 13 KO’s). Should Donaire win that fight for undisputed supremacy of the bantamweight division, higher profile fights (with the likes of Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Juan Manuel Lopez) will await him at junior featherweight and featherweight.
This is a fighter with a lot of great boxing ahead of him. We haven’t seen the last or the best of Nonito Donaire.