MANILA, Philippines – World super bantamweight champion Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire heard the booing of boxing fans while he was fighting Japanese boxer Toshiaki Nishioka at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California last Saturday.
Over 7,000 fight fans watched Donaire's clash against Nishioka, which "The Filipino Flash" won via a ninth-round technical knockout. But it was a slow-paced, tactical chess match that saw both boxers start off tentatively.
Making matters worse for Donaire is that his fight was preceded by a remarkable undercard bout -- an all-out war between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado that immediately became a top contender for Fight of the Year.
The Rios-Alvarado clash was non-stop action for seven rounds, with neither fighter getting advantage before Rios finally hurt Alvarado in the seventh to win by TKO.
"The booing... people want the fight like Alvarado and Rios," Donaire said in an interview with RingTV.
But Donaire explained that he could not engage Nishioka in a brawl the way Rios and Alvarado did with each other.
"You have to understand – if I make a move, he'll knock me out," Donaire said. "That's why I went with the straight (punch). I can see that he was setting me up like crazy."
Donaire used his speed to evade Nishioka's sporadic attacks, and patiently waited for openings for his counter-punches. The knockout came in the ninth round, when Nishioka trapped him against the ropes, only for Donaire to counter the Japanese's flurry with a perfectly-placed right counter.
"I have to be smart until I was able to land some uppercuts, and give him some different looks and get him with that straight right hand," Donaire explained.
Donaire also said that Nishioka was a "true warrior" even as the Japanese seemed tentative to mount any kind of offense early in their fight.
"He came in to fight. I know he is a true warrior in his heart and he came in to fight. When he was backing me up, he felt like he had the momentum and he just kept going," he said. "He was hitting me with great jabs, I was hitting him with great jabs."
"But I set him up with that straight and it landed perfectly," he added.
Donaire is hoping that he can take the rest of the year off after once again sustaining an injury in his left hand, though his promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, has suggested that "The Filipino Flash" can fight again in December.