Nonito Donaire will attempt to roll back the years and become the oldest ever bantamweight world champion when he challenges unbeaten WBC title holder Nordine Oubaali at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, this evening.
It looks a tall order for the 38-year-old Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs), but the ‘Filipino Flash’ is banking on his vaunted power to overhaul the odds. BetFred list a Donaire stoppage win at 9/2 and that seems his most likely route to victory if he is to surpass friend and countryman Gerry Penalosa to become the most senior bantamweight king.
French southpaw Oubaali is a firm 4/11 favourite, but both men have been out of action since taking on the Inoue brothers on the same World Boxing Super Series bill in November 2019. On that night in Saitama, Japan, four-weight champion Donaire pushed the ‘Monster’ Naoya to the limit over 12 thrilling rounds whilst Oubaali outscored younger sibling Takuma.
Now their paths cross in the ring with Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) only four years younger at 34, but lacking Donaire’s lengthy career mileage. So, who wins? Boxing Social’s intrepid band of writers and fortune-tellers attempt to predict the outcome.
Much has been made of Nonito Donaire’s thrilling performance against Naoya Inoue as the pair met in the final of the WBSS. Yes, Donaire was superb that night – but was that his last hurrah? Oubaali has looked good, if not tremendous. And he’s not the much younger man that many are assuming, though there’s less miles on the clock. I think Donaire pours everything into this one and probably hangs them up regardless. For that reason, the heart rules the head. I’ll go with Nonito Donaire to win via SD. – Craig Scott.
Neither Oubaali or Donaire have fought since November 2019 when they fought an Inoue brother each on the same bill. The Frenchman is the younger and the fresher man – even if he is no spring chicken at 34 – and will be less affected by the lay off than Donaire. After 289 rounds and 46 fights of professional boxing a Donaire win followed by a well-earned retirement would be the fairytale finish many want. But boxing and fairytales rarely collide. Oubaali to win on points. – Luke G. Williams.
I’m really struggling with a pick for Oubaali vs Donaire. The Filipino legend may be the veteran at 38 but Oubaali is no spring chicken at 34, and with both men having last fought on November 7, 2019 inactivity is an issue for both. Ultimately, my pick for this is down to the romantic in me. I’d love to see Donaire, one of the nicest fighters in the sport, to roll back the years one and land that hellacious left hook one last time. Prediction: Donaire split decision. – Phil Rogers.
Almost six years ago, I interviewed Nonito Donaire at McSorley’s Ale House in Macao (he was on the fruit juice) shortly before he stopped Frenchman Anthony Settoul at the Cotai Arena. Back then, the affable Donaire told me he had another 5-10 years at top level; I wasn’t convinced, but the Filipino has made a career out of confounding expectation. He hasn’t gone away and neither has his vaunted left hook. Logic suggests the fresher Oubaali will outhustle Donaire though the extended break may just benefit the Filipino veteran. It could be another close call, with Oubaali squeaking home via decision, but Donaire’s natural power always gives him a chance. He’ll have the sentiment of most boxing fans behind him. – Mark Butcher.
Main image: Esther Lin/Showtime.