world boxing

Filipino boxing legends heap praise on triumphant Donaire

Lynde Salgados

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Filipino boxing legends heap praise on triumphant Donaire

STILL THE CHAMP. Nonito Donaire celebrates with his family and team.

Nonito Donaire's Instagram page

Nonito Donaire, one of the oldest active world champions at 39, proves ‘he's on a different level’

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Retired boxing champions were all praises for Nonito Donaire Jr. after his impressive defense of the WBC bantamweight crown by way of a fourth-round stoppage of fellow Filipino challenger Reymart Gaballo under the lights of Carson, California ring on Saturday, December 11 (Sunday, December 12, Philippine time).

The much younger Gaballo, 25, tried to beat the mandatory eight counts as he tried to stand up only to fall back on his knee in pain after absorbing the notorious left hook from Donaire to the ribs.

And like when he aided his countryman who struggled in English during the pre-fight interviews in the US, Donaire quickly helped out Gaballo who stayed longer on the floor, unable to rise again from the lethal hit, as he grimaced for the first knockout defeat in his young boxing career.

“Old and wise, I think Nonito has still what it takes to remain in the spotlight with the proper game plans and the right discipline,” Cagayan de Oro-based Rene Barrientos, the oldest world boxing champion alive at 79, said of the oldest active world champion Donaire in the company of fellow 39-year-old Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan.

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“I was also nearing 40 in my last victorious fight, but that was a non-title and I sensed that my body had already little resistance to absorb power punch,” added Barrientos. “Maybe a more disciplined Donaire can keep fighting for some more years.”

Former amateur boxer Roberto “Bobby” Jalnaiz agreed that Donaire still has some tricks left up his sleeves.

“Had they fought, even Johnriel Casimero would have experienced a hard time against Donaire who’s still looking fit and sharp at his age,” said Jalnaiz, the country’s lone gold medalist in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, after watching the fight live on TV at his Long Beach, California house.

Cebuano’s Gerry Peñalosa, erstwhile two-division world champion, was right on target when he predicted earlier that Gaballo’s only chance of winning is if he managed to go the full distance in the 12-round all-Filipino title showdown.

“Of course, Nonito knew better that he has to get the job done early or he will be in jeopardy against the young and unbeaten Gaballo. He just proved that he’s on a different level,” Peñalosa told Rappler. 

Before facing the interim champion Gaballo, who’s now 24-1, Donaire gamely shared that he has a bigger goal, which is to possibly collect all the belts in the 118 pounds. This would mean a rematch with WBA, IBF, and Ring Magazine champion Naoya Inoue of Japan and a collision with another Filipino in the flamboyant WBO titleholder Casimero.

Fighting for nearly 20 years, Donaire now has 42-6 win-loss record, including 28 knockouts as he turned back the time anew since he destroyed French champion Nordine Oubaali, also in the fourth round, in taking the WBC bantamweight belt. –

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