Things get heated as Nonito and Vazquez Jr. face off during Thursday presser. (Chris Farina)
As written by many a boxing writer, a good big man beats a good smaller man should they meet in the ring.
Recent exceptions have proven otherwise.
Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (27-1, 18 KOs) climbs up another weight division to meet former junior featherweight titleholder Wilfredo “Papito” Vazquez (21-1-1, 18 KOs) for the vacant WBO title. Though Donaire once grabbed a world title at 112 pounds, he is the favorite to win on Saturday, Feb. 4 in San Antonio. HBO will telecast.
Lately, numerous and exceptionally talented prizefighters have strafed through several weight class divisions while gobbling up world titles along the way. Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez, Robert Guerrero and Bernard Hopkins are some of those weight hoppers.
The frightfully talented Donaire has one loss and that came in early in his second pro contest against Rosendo Sanchez in Vallejo, California. It was a five round fight and ended in a unanimous decision back in 2001. That fighter retired after winning one more fight and ironically now lives in Las Vegas where Donaire trained for this fight.
Puerto Rico’s Vazquez was seen by many journalists from that island to be the best Boricua boxer today. His bloodlines, boxing savvy, knockout power, speed and overall skill set had many raving about a long and prosperous future. Then he ran into that brick jaw of Mexico’s Jorge Arce and it all came tumbling down.
Many thought Arce would be target practice for the sharp-shooting Vazquez, and he was, but slowly the classy Puerto Rican boxer began to unravel under the Mexican’s pressure. By the 11th round Vazquez fought bravely but simply ran out of oxygen.
Speed has usually favored Vazquez in most of his prior bouts, but in this match Donaire may be a notch or two faster on the blue shift light spectrum.
Usually when Donaire cracks that left hook it prompts most opponents to look for a safe haven by seldom firing punches. That’s what happened when Omar Narvaez fought the Flash last year in New York. Once the Argentine was cracked he seldom mounted an offensive attack. He let Donaire dictate the fight and he dictated it all the way to a lopsided win. Narvaez blamed Donaire but in reality, you can’t win on defense alone.
Vazquez needs to understand that it’s all or nothing against Donaire, who has extraordinary hand and foot speed. It comes down to timing the attacks and that’s very difficult to do against the unorthodox style Donaire employs.
When Fernando Montiel fought Donaire he thought he could take the usual sloppy chances and found himself looking up at the Filipino Flash. Mistakes are not optional against the Northern Californian. Those looping right hands and double left hooks by the Mexican bomber were OK against sub par opponents. Against Donaire it was a fiery path to self destruction.
Vazquez needs a careful plan of execution where he uses his technical prowess behind a steady jab and combinations. He can’t allow Donaire to predict his offensive moves or it will end abruptly. The angles and step outs by the Puerto Rican are important, plus he must mount enough of an attack to keep Donaire on his toes. Otherwise it will be a swift and painful night.
Donaire is considered by many to be one of the top pound for pound prizefighters in the world today. One day he could be at the very top.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV