In a great match for fight fans, Carl Frampton will continue his quest for World Title glory inside Belfast’s SSE Arena on April 21st, when he meets the Filipino pound for pound great, and four weight World Champion, Nonito Donaire. BT Sport and BoxNation will televise.
It’s a great coup for Promoter Frank Warren and the City of Belfast. Although recent form suggest Donaire may be on the slide at the age of 35, and with 42 fights behind him, it’s still an intriguing matchup, and one Frampton will need to be in top condition to win. It’s an excellent bit of matchmaking, especially as Frampton is in a bit of World Title limbo at the moment, with nearly all of the World Champions at Featherweight being tied up with mandatory defences. Donaire will certainly be coming to Belfast to win, and a final assault on World honours before bringing the curtain down on an illustrious career.
A pro since February 2001, the Filipino lost his unbeaten record in only his second fight, a points reverse to Rosendro Sanchez in. Donaire bounced back in style with 15 straight wins leading him to a match with a man who was 28-0 and a pound for pound star in the making in the Australian based Armenian, Vic Darchinyan. Doniare ripped Darchinyan’s IBF and IBO Flyweight crowns from him in devastating style, with a brutal fifth round stoppage, announcing himself to the world in the process.
Three stoppage wins followed, before Donaire jumped to Super Flyweight to relieve Rafael Conception of his interim WBA Title with a unanimous points win. Manuel Vargas and Hernan Marquez were both stopped before Donaire moved to Bantamweight, knocking out Volodymyr Sydorenko on his debut at the weight before ruthlessly stopping Fernando Montiel in two rounds in February 2011 to lift the WBC and WBO Bantamweight Titles. He would fight at Bantamweight one more time, outpointing the previously unbeaten Omar Narvaez inside Madison Square Garden.
Nonito would move up to Super Bantamweight next, and won the vacant WBO Title by beating Wilfredo Vazquez Jr via split decision. He would add the IBF Title in his next bout, widely outpointing the South African, Jeffrey Mathebula. Two more stoppage wins over Toshiaki Nishioka (TKO9) and Jorge Arce (KO3) led Donaire into a meeting with Cuban amateur starlet, Guillermo Rigondeaux. In a dour fight, Doniare was constantly embroiled in a chess match with Rigondeaux, and by the time he caught up with the Cuban, knocking him down in the tenth, it was too late to salvage his Title, and he was handed a second career loss, outpointed unanimously.
His comeback was painfully close to disaster. A rematch with Vic Darchinyan was arranged, six years after the explosive first instalment. In a ten rounder, Darchinyan was four points up on two cards and level on a third when Donaire went for broke and scored a knockout in the penultimate round. World Title glory at a fourth weight came next though, as Simpiwe Vetyeka was beaten on a technical decision following an opening round clash of heads in the first round, leaving Donaire unable to continue. As the fight was stopped in the fifth, the fight went to the scorecards, with Donaire becoming the new WBA (Super) Featherweight Champion. His joy was to be shortlived though, as fast rising Jamaican, Nicholas Walters ripped his belt from him, knocking him down in the third and sixth, before stopping him in the same round.
Donaire wasn’t quite finished yet though, and after back to back second round stoppage wins over William Prado and Anthony Settoul, he regained the vacant WBO Super Bantamweight crown by outpointing Cesar Juarez in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A homecoming defence against Zsolt Bedak ended in a third round stoppage win before Donaire shipped his Title meekly to Jessie Magdaleno unanimously in November 2016.
He took ten months out following his latest setback, and in his last contest, widely outpointed Ruben Garcia Hernandez at the Alamodome, Texas in September.
I’m inclined to think that Donaire is looking for one final decent payday, with the hope a bingo punch might propel him back to World Title class. I think if Frampton has a hell of a lot less frantic build up this time (change of trainer, promotional disputes etc) than he had in a ring rusty win over Horacio Garcia, I he wins quite comfortably. I predict a mid to late stoppage win for the Northern Irishman, maybe even by corner retirement, with the miles on the clock finally catching up with the Filipino great. But it is great to see a modern day legend coming to these shores, long may it continue.