By Anthony “Zute” George – Nonito Donaire’s bantamweight-winning performance Saturday night was remarkable in many ways. One of many reasons was that we saw a 38-year-old at his best fighting at 118 pounds, putting one of my favorite divisions at the forefront of boxing.
Nonito stopped by Zutes Boxing Talk recently and said that he and his team were growing tired of so much attention being focused on his age. Understandable. However, Team Donaire must realize why we are all fixated at 38; it is just not done that way at 118 pounds. The history of boxing tells us as much.
Carlos Zarate’s (a bantamweight legend) career was over at the age of 36. Orlando Canizales, the greatest bantamweight I ever laid my eyes on, had his last fight at 118 when he was 30. Ruben Olivares put the bantamweight division in his rearview mirror at the age of 25. Jeff Chandler did compete at bantamweight his entire career; however, his last fight was at 27. Eder Jofre, the fighter who was ranked highest by the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) at bantamweight by a large margin, saw his last fight at that weight at 29. Manuel Ortiz, who was ranked 4th by the IBRO, impressed all who were born when he captured the bantamweight title at 33 in 1950. Nonito did it at 38.
When Nonito was asked if making this cumbersome weight was a massive chore for him, he surprisingly said it was easy to make 118 pounds. The Filipino Flash contributed food as the main reason he can compete at 118, after years of toiling at 122 and 126 pounds. Donaire explained that years of poverty and not know where his next meal was coming from triggered the association of financial security with comfort food. Plenty of comfort food. It took the knowledge and wisdom of Nonito’s wife, trainer, manager, quite frankly his everything, to shift this way of thinking.
Once Nonito identified food as more of nutrition than comfort, the weight cut for bantamweight was something he could once again accomplish. Creating a unique dynamic of having such an experienced pugilist competing in a weight class that historically been a young man’s game.
We saw glimpses of this dynamic when Donaire took Naoya Inoue, The Japanese Monster, to hell and back in 2019. We saw it come to fruition when Donaire systematically dominated, then crushed, the undefeated southpaw Nordine Oubaali.
When will we see it next? Nonito said he is all in for a rematch with The Monster, assuming he gets past Michael Dasmarinas in his next fight. If not, Donaire told Zutes Boxing Talk he would be more than willing to tangle with any of the young names who are constantly calling him out.
Regardless of who it is, Nonito will be in shape and revving up that monumental left hook.
Picture courtesy of Tony Diaz