The Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka bout is one of the biggest fights in 2012, but it will likely be under appreciated. It takes place on Saturday, October 13 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
These two elite fighters will battle for super bantamweight supremacy, but the 122 pound division isn't exactly a fan magnet.
Donaire comes in as the man with the most popularity and charisma. The Filipino fighter has the skills to back up the hype as well. He's 29-1 with 18 KOs in his career. His only loss came in his second professional fight.
This will be Donaire's third fight at super bantamweight, and this represents his biggest challenge to date. His last fight was a tough one with Jeffrey Mathebula. Donaire took Mathebula's IBF title, but the judges' scores were a bit one-sided.
Mathebula's size and counter-punching ability gave Donaire more trouble than the scores reflected. That said, Donaire emerged victorious and his clash with Nishioka will be for the IBF and WBO titles.
Nishioka is the WBC super bantamweight champion (though his title will not be on the line). He's a veteran Japanese fighter with a sparkling record of his own. He's 39-4 with 24 KOs and he has the punching power and chin to test Donaire's sturdiness at 122 pounds.
Here's how you can watch the fight:
When: Saturday, October 13, 10:00 p.m. ET
Where: Home Depot Center in Carson City, California
TV: HBO Boxing After Dark
Live Stream: HBOGO (Pay Service)
The Book on Donaire
The man they call the Filipino Flash has the ability to devastate opponents with his speed and his power. The latter was questioned as it relates to Donaire's exploits at 122 pounds, but he dropped Mathebula in the fourth round of their fight, and broke his jaw in the 11th round.
He didn't stop the tough South African, but he did prove he could hurt legitimate super bantamweights. Take a look at the knockdown from a hard left hand. It happens at about the 3:00 mark of the video, but the entire round is entertaining.
Donaire throws punches from all angles, and he generally keeps his hands low. Only fighters with superior quickness, reflexes and instincts can be successful fighting that way. Donaire would definitely fit the description. However, Mathebula landed jabs regularly, but much of that was due to his length advantage.
His challenge against Nishioka will be avoiding or absorbing the WBC champion's power. Donaire will have the speed advantage, but Nishioka is a strong and experienced fighter who is much more comfortable fighting at 122 pounds.
The Book on Nishioka
Two of the four losses on Nishioka's record came to the same man. Veeraphol Sahaprom had Nishoka's number in half of the two men's epic clashes. They fought each other four times from 2000 to 2004, and Nishioka never defeated him.
The other two bouts were ruled split decision draws.
Aside from his clashes with Sahaprom, Nishioka has been dominant throughout his career. The other losses on his record came when he was 19 years old. He turned 36 years old in July.
He is coming off an extensive layoff, though. His last fight took place in October of 2011. It was a unanimous decision victory over Rafael Marquez. Ring rust could be a concern after a year out of the ring.
The win over Marquez was significant for a few reasons: Nishioka defended his WBC title against a reputable opponent, it ran his win-streak to 16 straight fights, and it all came in front of an American audience.
The win was just the third fight in Nishioka's career in the United States. The Donaire fight will be his fourth, and the first time he's had consecutive fights in the United States.
His lack of exposure in America is a reason he doesn't get the attention he deserves. Too often quality foreign fighters are ignored because they fight primarily in their own country.
This guy is a tremendous fighter with solid technique and big power. Check out this knockout vs. Jhonny Gonzalez in 2009. The bomb drops at the 1:21 mark of the video:
The combination of Nishioka's southpaw stance, his experience and his power makes him a dangerous fighter.
This could be an amazing fight. Donaire's speed, power and instincts makes me give him the edge, but it isn't by much. I respect Nishioka's experience and power as well. I wouldn't be surprised to see him catch and hurt Donaire early.
He's smart and he has good timing to go with the pop. Still, I believe Donaire will outbox Nishioka and win more exchanges.
It will be a close and possibly disputed decision victory for Donaire.
Follow Brian Mazique and Franchiseplay on YouTube and Twitter for reactions, analysis and news from the world of sports and sports video games.