On Saturday November 9th, Nonito Donaire came from behind to beat Vic Darchinyan in the ninth round by TKO stoppage in dramatic fashion. Still many came away unimpressed since Donaire appeared to be different from past fights with some citing that he looked a little bit too uncomfortable at the weight and a bit flat in the ring. Darchinyan, who is a solid foe, was knocked out cold by Donaire in a stunning fashion years prior, and the rematch felt more like a hangover from that star making performance than one that would solidify last year’s Boxer of Year as one of the best in the sport.
So why is that? It comes down to the way superstars are held to a different standard. If Golovkin does not knock someone out he had an off night, if Floyd Mayweather loses a round we wonder if he is getting old – it is just the high standard held to the elite. Whether fair or unfair, Nonito has been held to superstar standards from the heavy push he got from HBO as well as his run collecting belts at 122 lbs. last year. The new problem is that was then and this is now.
Donaire looked, at times, a step slower and just flat out different against a guy who is coming up in weight. Donaire, who after the fight showed his charm that many in the Bay Area have witnessed in person, called out Max Kellerman’s ‘boy’ as he put it, Guillermo Rigondeaux. Is this really what Donaire wants? Will Rigondeaux be forced to move up to Bantamweight in a rematch as Donaire may not even be able to make 122 lbs anymore? On top of all of that, Rigondeaux, a boxer’s boxer, has been seemingly punished by HBO for his tactical style and for beating one of network’s best rating draws. What does this mean? Essentially, Rigondeaux has no leverage whatsoever.
Let’s get back to Donaire, who is rumored to be returning to the ring in March on an undercard of Ricky Burns vs. Terrance Crawford, unless Burns get stripped of his title for avoiding coming stateside(editor’s note: Donaire suffered an injury to his orbital bone and may not return until May). It seems clear as day that Top Rank will have Nonito active and look to assess where he is for the time being , but when looking at the division some of the fights now look more interesting than they may have a while ago. For example, Orlando Salido is no sure win for Donaire, who the more I watch seems to be just as patient a fighter as Rigondeaux and needs a fighter to come to him before he will counterpunch.
The problem with Salido is he is tougher than nails and can end any fighting with one punch. If the Nonito who got into the ring against Darchinyan fought Salido it would be anyone’s fight. The corner seemed to be a madhouse with his father and Robert Garcia riffling off instructions, at times appearing to contradict each other. It seems as though for Donaire, who may have had his worst professional year in the sport of boxing, may need to rethink things as he and his wife recently had a son, Jarel Donaire, and his life may be moving to another place.
Donaire is one of the good guys in the sport. When he attends a club show he will take endless photographs and talk with anyone. It is hard to be so harsh on someone who you see as a “good guy” for the sport when so many people are Adrien Broner – ing it up and not leading by example. It seems Donaire needs to figure out what would work best for him, because he is still a great fighter. The thing is, when you are a superstar, the public will hold you to superstar standards.