Most fans who witnessed Nonito Donaire’s chilling second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel on Saturday consider the budding Filipino star to be the sport’s top bantamweight.
That was a forgone conclusion for the editors of THE RING, which rated the vanquished Mexican veteran No. 1 among bantamweights going into Saturday’s fight. Donaire (26-1, 18 knockouts), who won the WBO and WBC 118-pound belts with his sensational HBO-televised KO, is now recognized as the No. 1-rated bantamweight by THE RING magazine.
However, figuring where Donaire ranks in the mythical (and very subjective) pound-for-pound ratings is not such an easy decision.
THE RING ranked Donaire No. 5 in its pound-for-pound rankings, behind far-more accomplished elite veterans Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Sergio Martinez and Juan Manuel Marquez prior to the Montiel fight. Some fans and boxing writers believed that ranking was too high for a young up-and-comer whose only victory over an elite fighter was his knockout of Vic Darchinyan, which was THE RING’s 2007 KO of the Year.
Even Donaire admitted that he needed another high-profile victory against a fellow-pound-for-pound-ranked fighter in order to justify THE RING‘s lofty ranking. The 28-year-old Filipino got one with Montiel (who the magazine ranked No. 7, pound for pound, going into Saturday’s fight) and he exceeded expectations.
Donaire was so impressive, THE RING advanced him from No. 5 to No. 3, ahead Marquez and Martinez.
It wasn’t a simple choice for the magazine’s editorial board, which read the views and opinions of dozens of members of THE RING Ratings Panel before making their decision.
Martinez, THE RING middleweight champ and 2010 Fighter of the Year, is coming off a breath-taking second-round KO of the Year of Paul Williams. Marquez, THE RING lightweight champ, is coming off a ninth-round stoppage of No. 1 contender Michael Katsidis in a 2010 fight-of-the-year candidate.
“It took more time to discuss where Nonito Donaire would be rated in the pound-for-pound rankings than it did to update the entire divisional rankings,” said Nigel Collins, Editor-in-Chief of THE RING magazine. “Advancing him to No. 3 means that he overtakes middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez (No. 3 last week) and world lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (No. 4 last week).
“The decision was made even more difficult because both Martinez and Marquez have recently defended their titles via knockout against top-notch challengers. In the end, however, it was impossible to ignore Donaire’s overpowering performances in his last 10 fights, nine of which he won via knockout or TKO. The ‘Filipino Flash’ is on a helluva roll, one that could conceivably see him climb even higher in future months.”
Collins, who recognized Donaire’s vast potential years ago, is probably right. Donaire has repeatedly stated on record that he would like to face the winner of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament final before climbing in weight to face the best fighters in the 122- and 126-pound divisions, including Puerto Rican star Juan Maneul Lopez.
If Donaire gets his wish and continues his winning ways, his idol Pacquiao, who’s taken on huge underdogs in his recent bouts, and Mayweather, who has nothing scheduled in 2011, better start looking over their shoulders.
The Filipino Flash is coming and closing in fast.