MANILA, Philippines – World bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire could be boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao’s heir apparent, analysts said.
Donaire dethroned veteran Mexican fighter Fernando Montiel via a brutal second-round technical knockout in their Las Vegas clash Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) to secure the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization bantamweight belts.
Before the fight, Donaire was No. 5 on the Ring Magazine’s list of top 10 pound-for-pound (P4P) fighters in the world, with Pacquiao on top.
Some boxing experts believe that Donaire’s demolition of Montiel may cement his rise to the top.
The 2 fighters’ similar backgrounds and success in the ring were not lost on The Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer.
He said both fighters grew up in General Santos, became professional boxers before their 20th birthday in one of the smallest weight classes, and held multiple championships at the age of 28.
Keefer quoted Top Rank boss Bob Arum as saying that "people will see a lot of things [with Donaire that] we saw with Manny Pacquiao.”
Eastside Boxing’s James Slater, meanwhile, said Donaire’s rise to the top of the P4P list is inevitable.
“Pacquiao doesn’t figure to have too many more fights, [Floyd] Mayweather may never fight again, depending on the outcome of his legal troubles, and [Sergio] Martinez is 35 years old. With so much fight left in him at just 28, and with the seemingly-at-his-peak Filipino having a number of solid opponents to look at facing in the coming months… it’s conceivable indeed that Donaire will one day reach the top of the P4P lists.”
“Is there any fighter, at either 118, 122 or 126, who can stop Donaire’s sensational rise?” Slater asks.
ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, on the other hand, believes that Donaire already deserves a No. 3 P4P ranking now just behind Pacquiao and Mayweather.
Rafael, after watching the Donaire-Moniel fight, also compared the Filipino Flash’s rise to stardom to the route taken by the Pacman.
“With the booming knockout, Donaire won a title in a third weight class and gave the Philippines another victory in its burgeoning boxing rivalry with Mexico. Donaire was a longtime flyweight champion - the same division where Pacquiao began his historic run - and also had won an interim junior bantamweight belt,” he said.
Donaire welcomed the comparison and said he still looks up to his compatriot.
"Pacquiao has given me this opportunity and I will always thank him for that," he said. "I'm happy being number two." – with a report from Agence France-Presse