NONITO Donaire Jr takes the road to redemption on Sunday (Manila time) when he challenges reigning champion Nordine Oubaali of France for the World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight title in Carson, California.
The Filipino, 38, will try to attempt regaining a piece of the world 118-lb championship and tons of respectability as he climbs the ring for the first time in almost two years — since losing his unification title bout against unbeaten Japanese Naoya Inoue in 2019.
The long layoff hardly affected Donaire physically as he easily weighed in at 117.5 pounds during the official weigh-in on Friday (Saturday, Manila time) at the Dignity Health Sports Park.
Oubaali, defending his belt for the third time, also came in at 117.5 pounds.
The 12-round title fight was almost a year in the making after Oubaali contracted COVID-19 and had to sidestep from the bout.
Donaire was then pitted against Emmanuel Rodriguez with the WBC crown still at stake. Unfortunately, the Filipino was also hit by the COVID-19 virus, necessitating his replacement by compatriot Reymart Gaballo at the last minute. Donaire contested the result of the swab test conducted on him, insisting it was a ‘false positive’ as succeeding tests yielded negative results.
Nonetheless, the Gaballo-Rodriguez showdown for the interim bantamweight belt was a go and the Filipino went on to score a highly-disputed split decision win against the former world champion from Puerto Rico.
All of these are water under the bridge for Donaire, a four-time world division champion, who stressed what matters most is the present.
“It would be great to win the title at 38 years old and become the oldest champion at 118 pounds, but let’s keep it going. Let’s make it 40. Let’s make it 42. There ain’t no stopping me. Mentally, I’m very grateful, but at the same time, I’m just very ready,” said the challenger, who sports a 40-6 record, with 26 KOs.
But Oubaali, 34, believes Donaire is already a thing of the past.
“The difference in the fight is going to be I want to win more. I want to continue to make history and stay as the world champion in this division. I know that it’s my time. I want this more than he does,” said the champion, holder of an unbeaten record of 17-0, with 12 KOs.
Ironically, the two last fought under the same card in Saitama, Japan on Nov. 7, 2019.
Whereas Donaire lost a unanimous decision against Inoue and relinquished the World Boxing Association (WBA) belt, Oubaali successfully defended his WBC crown with a similar unanimous decision victory over Takuma Inoue, younger brother of Naoya.
The ‘Filipino Flash’ however, sees a different outcome this time.
“I always make magical fights in the first place,” he stressed. “It’s always going to be magical with me. I’m a unicorn.”
Jack Reiss will be the third man in the ring, while judges scoring the main event of the Showtime tripleheader are Glenn Feldman, Alejandro Rochin, and Patrick Russell.
We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.