By James Blears
Four years in age, separates WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali and the great Nonito Donaire, but there`s a sheer gulf of difference in experience and accumulated wear and tear along the way.
Nordine who`s the younger, aged thirty four, has a record of 17-0 including twelve KO`s. Nonito, who has been there, seen it all and done almost everything, has won multiple championships in four divisions, namely: flyweight, bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight. His brilliantly accumulated fight record is forty six fights, with forty wins, including twenty six KO`s, and six losses.
The question posed for this fight involves an equation and its balance. Does Nonito still possess enough vapor and residue left in the tank after multiple slugfest wars, and can he use his vast experience to overcome Nordine? Or will southpaw Nordine as proud champion, be able to outmuscle and overpower the battle hardened but also battle worn two decade career veteran in the twilight of a fabled career, catching up with him on the cusp?
At some point in this fascinating contest at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, Nordine`s powerful left hook is going to connect on Nonito`s chin or sink into his midriff. Nordine relies on his golden left to apply a signature conclusion to almost all of his stoppage wins. It`s his guiding light and principal armament.
Literally on the other hand, Nonito`s right is a potent equalizer, and he`s used it to great effect during his legendary career. His left also carries an ample charge of TNT.
But…is there a lingering effect for “Long Socks” from his previous fight with the formidable Naoya “Monster” Inoue, which thrilled us on November 7th 2019? Undaunted and undeterred, Nonito giving away ten years to the wunderkind, purposefully strolled into that lion`s den in Japan. So called wise experts scoffed, sagely predicting he`d never go beyond five. Little did they know!
Instead, the Old Master fought magnificently, utilizing subtlety, applying guile and employing mature wisdom, to give the young man the fight/fright of his life! In the second round his pinpoint accurate left hook opened a huge crescent shaped gash smack on Naoya`s right brow, and by the fifth, the Japanese ace had a copious nose bleed, which continued to drip, leak and weep, up to the final bell.
This thrilling fight was ebbing and flowing and during it Naoya`s boxing education was increasing tenfold, via the strictest tutorial. In the ninth, the unthinkable almost happened! A huge right cross landed flush on Monster`s chin, staggered him and he very nearly went down.
Like the great fighter and champion he is, Inoue weathered it, frowned, re-grouped and came back with frothing venom in the eleventh. He pounced, catching tiring for once off guard Donaire, with a cluster of punches. A right, left and another right to the head, then downstairs with a heart rending and pulverizing left hook to the liver.
The reaction was delayed a second or two… and then Nonito winced, doubled up in pain, sped away to avoid more, and went down on to his haunches, wisely waiting until almost the very last digit of the count to get up and walk back into the inevitable firestorm, yet somehow to survive…how? Yet he did!!!
After the final bell in the twelfth the two hugged each other for what seemed like an eternity, like long lost friends. Under fire ordeal forges such friendships. Nonito slowly trudged over to his corner, achingly plonked himself down on his stool to rest and then the younger man came bounding over, knelt, smiled and congratulated as well as tenderly embraced him all over again.
It was the essence of pure sports magic and deep mutual respect, which brings tears to the eyes of diehard loyal boxing fans, coupled with a welling and almost overwhelming feeling of immense pride, because a classic like this is destined to be cherished forever. It remains a glorious win/win for Boxing.
Nonito lost his WBA (Super) World bantamweight title that night. Naoya retained his IBF bantameweight belt, simultaneously winning the World Boxing Super Series Muhammad Ali trophy. A curly wurly golden colored column, almost as big as him. With the post fight internal buildup of lactic acid, naturally coursing through his weary and leaden arms, he was only just able to briefly lift it aloft.
So, how much has this extraordinary slugfest taken out of the great “Filipino Flash?” Has even this long rest and recuperation time been enough to heal his ageing and increasingly complaining body? Or… was it just one war too many?
Nordine has already taken care of Naoya`s younger brother Takuma in his second defense, after becoming champion, putting him down in the fourth, with? What else but a left hook, and going on to victory by UD.
In winning the magnificent Green and Gold Belt, which was at that time vacant, Nordine defeated Rau`shee Warren. It was a case of concluding unfinished business.
In the 2012 London Olympics, Nordine of France took on Rau`shee of the USA in the flyweight category. In a nonstop give and take, after three magnificent rounds, Nordine just edged it 19-18. As pros and for the championship of the World Boxing Council, Nordine was even more relentless. He hankered and hungered after the title, just that extra bit more, to win a UD.
I first met Nonito at the WBC Convention 45 in Manila, Philippines in 2007. Sleek, whipcord slim with a full head of lustrous hair he was, to quote Miss Jean Brodie`s saying: “In his prime.” Sadly, like with all of us, the years have in a small, yet increasing relentless way, taken their toll. He`s broadened out, yet not fattened up. His hairline is receding in a somewhat reminiscent way to that of Benny Leonard. In comparison Nordine looks a decade younger and positively velvety. To be fair, there`s a difference between weathered and haggard…isn’t there?
In his time, Nonito has dispatched the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Fernando Montiel, Toshaki Nishioka, Jorge Arce and so many more. But illustrious as this is, it belongs to the past. We`re in the here and now!
When “The Paddington Express” Terry Downs fought an elderly Sugar Ray Robinson and defeated him on points at the Empire Pool Wembley on September 25th 1962, he was complimented on his victory, but wistfully retorted: “I didn`t fight Sugar Ray Robinson…I fought his ghost!” It was Ray`s one hundred and sixty third pro boxing contest. It was Terry`s thirty eighth.
Sugar Ray Leonard one said: “At twenty, I could hit you three times and you wouldn`t have touched me in retaliation. But at thirty… I`d lost that fraction of second edge, and I was then wondering, how hard are you going to hit me with return fire?
The sheen had slightly dulled, the shine had by this time, had lost just a bit of its burnished sparkle, becoming a glow.
Up to this point, Nonito has fought forty six times, which is twenty nine times more than Nordine. Although he slowing down a step or two, Nonito still retains a fair amount of zip in his legs and an abundance of zap in his fists.
The outcome of this fight, might well depend on the pace at which it`s fought. The younger man will want to push the envelope, applying constant and unremitting pressure. The older chap will want to control and steady it, fighting it in judiciously selected spurts, which befits an older ring citizen.
Jose Sulaimán WBC HONORARY POSTHUMOUS LIFETIME PRESIDENT (+)
Mauricio Sulaimán WBC PRESIDENT
WBC BANTAMWEIGHT TITLE CHAMPIONSHIP
DIGNITY HEALTH SPORTS PARK
CARSON, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
MAY 29, 2021
THIS WILL BE THE WBC’S 2, 107 CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE FIGHT IN THE FIFTY-EIGHT YEAR HISTORY OF THE WBC
TOM BROWN & TGB PROMOTIONS, PRESENTS:
NORDINE OUBAALI (France)
Date of Birth: August 4, 1986
Birthplace: Lens, pas-de-Calais, France
Resides: Bagnolet, Seine-Saint-Denis, France
Record: 17-0-0, 12 ko’s
World titles fights: 3 (3-0-0)
Total rounds: 94
Manager: Ali Oubaali
Promoter: Allstar Promotions
NONITO DONAIRE (Philippines)
WBC no. 1/ Official Challenger
Date of Birth: November 16, 1982
Birthplace: Taliban, Bohol, Philippines
Resides: Las Vegas, Nevada
Record: 40-6-0, 26 ko’s
World Titles fights: 23 (18-5-0)
Total rounds: 289
Manager: Cameron Dunkin
Promoter: Ringstar Sports
NAME PERIOD ASC CHAMPION
28 WORLD CHAMPIONS RECOGNIZED BY THE WBC
OF WHICH ONLY 3 HAVE REGAINED THEIR TITLE:
RUBEN OLIVARES (MEXICO) TWICE
RAFAEL HERRERA (MEXICO) TWICE
JOICHIRO TATSUYOSHI (JAPAN) THREE TIMES
165 TITLE FIGHTS IN THE BANTAMWEIGHT DIVISION HAVE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC.
THIS WILL BE THE 48th. TITLE FIGHT OF WHICH HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN UNITED STATES IN BANTAMWEIGHT DIVISION IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
SOUTH KOREA 2
PUERTO RICO 1
NORTH IRELAND 1
WBC TITLE FIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA STATE IN THE WBC HISTORY
234 WORLD TITLE FIGHTS HAVE BEEN HELD IN CALIFORNIA STATE IN THE WBC HISTORY
28 TITLE FIGHTS IN THE BANTAMWEIGHT DIVISION HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN CALIFORNIA STATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
THIS WILL BE THE 235 WBC TITLE FIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA STATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
LT. FLY 12
TOTAL FIGHTS 234