CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – With experience on his side, Nonito Donaire Jr. should stop challenger Reymart Gaballo early. Otherwise, the unlikely may happen in the all-Filipino title bout on December 11 in Carson City, California.
According to Cebuano boxing legend Gerry Peñalosa, who is a former two-division world champion, Donaire is almost equipped with all the ring arsenals to win against the much younger Gaballo as he has the power and elite technique to survive the season-ending showdown.
“But Nonito will be in great danger if the fight will go the distance,” Peñalosa told Rappler, fully aware that Donaire is no longer a spring chicken at 39, and the unbeaten Gaballo still oozing with energy and hunger to be among the greats at still a young age of 25.
“We all know that they’re both hard pounders and fiery ring warriors, but youth and experience will be the deciding factor in this fight,” Peñalosa said. “Grizzled fighters like Donaire know better that a young opponent is fiercely hungry and will try to do everything in order to win.”
Donaire will be risking his World Boxing Council bantamweight belt on the same day but in a different time zone as Filipino Johnriel ‘Quadro Alas’ Casimero, who will also be staking his World Boxing Organization 118-pound belt against Briton Paul Butler in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Both Donaire and Casimero are four-division world champions and will try to go for flat-out wins in a race to challenge next Japanese icon Naoya Inoue, holder of the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation crowns, who is also slated to clash with Thai brawler Aran Dipaen on December 14.
Casimero is favored to dispatch Butler, who has only one win via stoppage in his 33-2 win-loss credential.
“Nonito must be in great shape for this fight,” said Peñalosa. “Yes, he has this signature knockout hook and can outbox Gaballo. But he has to get the job done early or the youthful stamina and aggressiveness of his fellow Mindanao-based rival will show the way.”
Mindanao sports scribes were also excited as Donaire comes from General Santos City and Gaballo hails from nearby Koronadal in Cotabato province.
“I’ll still go for Donaire,” said Jon Develos of Davao City’s Mindanao Times. “He has the style and experience.”
Sun Star columnist Leonides Biantan of Cagayan de Oro said Donaire is tangible and is known for surviving rough moments atop the the rugged canvas.
“But young Gaballo seems very promising, though I’ve not seen yet a lot of him in world-class fights,” Biantan said.
For Northern Mindanao News Source sports correspondent Jaime Frias, competitive boxing in the highest level is for the young.
“I’m always excited with promising boxers in their youth like Manny Pacquiao before. And Gaballo is one of them,” Frias said. – Rappler.com