LAST Friday, I had to do a double-take when I saw that the odds-makers had pegged Nicholas Walters as the slight favorite against Nonito Donaire heading into their featherweight championship match last Sunday.
More often than not, these odds-makers get it wrong, and so I scoffed at the proposition that the former pound for pound entrant would be an underdog against a relatively unknown, albeit undefeated fighter.
Turns out, they were right this time.
THE FIGHT. In the first round, both fighters started out cautiously, with Walters firing out his jab and right hands and Donaire lashing out with hooks.
Things heated up in the second as Donaire landed combinations while Walters found the range with his jab.
Seconds before the bell rang, both fighters exchanged and Donaire stunned Walters with a big left hook followed by a right hand. The Jamaican wobbled to his corner where his corner feverishly attended to him.
It was Walters’ turn in the third as he connected with a short uppercut that sent Donaire down to one knee for the first knockdown in his career.
In the fourth, Donaire’s output waned as the knockdown clearly affected him. Walters scored big with jabs and right hands and opened up a cut on Donaire’s eye.
In the fifth, Donaire fired back and connected with short right hands and hooks but Walters connected with several big right hands.
In the sixth, Walters targeted the cut while Donaire lashed out with hooks. Just before the bell ended, the two exchanged near the ropes. But as Donaire came forward, he missed with a wide left hook and the Jamaican countered with an axe of a right hand that crashed on Donaire’s left temple and he fell face down.
He got up to beat the count, but the ref waived it off upon seeing he was in no condition to continue.
TECHNIQUE. I totally understand why Donaire himself proclaimed that he couldn’t compete with Walters. A fighter who had just been knocked out for the first time in his career would feel totally overmatched.
But was he really?
He was ahead on two scorecards after the first two rounds. He hurt and wobbled Walters just seconds into the second round,
Where he failed was in the strategy department. When Walters got hurt, he regrouped and refocused. In his own words, he knew “he had a job to do”.
He started relying more on his strengths- flicking that long jab in Donaire’s face and following it up with right hands. All the while, he kept his hands up and did not throw wild, wide punches.
In constrast, after Donaire got knocked down with that short wicked uppercut in the third, he unraveled and lost his composure.
He started swinging for the fences and got overly reliant on that big left hook. In the sixth round, he missed and got caught, big-time.
Watch that knockout sequence again and you will see Donaire over-commit to that vaunted left hook of his which Walters anticipated as he stepped back and unleashed that eventful right hand which called for the denouement of the fight .
Granted, Walters was indeed the bigger man, but hey, boxing is not about size and strength all the time. Nonito possesses one of the most powerful left hooks in the sport and you would have been blind not to notice how Walters was buzzed by it.
Watch the replay after Walters got stunned by that left hook and you will see him dazed as he is walked towards his corner where he was guided to his stool.
I don’t have to belabor this point, you see. Size doesn’t always win fights. Remember Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito?
I also don’t recall Manny complaining that Miguel Cotto or Shane Mosely were too big and strong for him.
What I’m saying is that the disparity in size and power wasn’t that significant, nothing that could be compensated for with the proper game plan and technique.
I may be a lone voice in the wilderness here, but I don’t mind swimming upstream. I say that fight calls for a rematch
LAST ROUND. It’s on one of my best friends since our law school days, Atty. Alan F. Siu who recently celebrated his birthday. Cheers!