Filipino Flash hopes future holds bigger fights
An injured hand and a courageous opponent in Luis Maldonado weren't enough to panic Nonito Donaire and throw him off his game. So what's next for the Filipino Flash?
Originally Published: December 2, 2007By Ron Borges | Special to ESPN.com
AP Photo/Douglas HealeyLuis Maldonado, right, found himself on the wrong end of a terribly one-sided beating.MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- With holiday shopping on the minds of many this time of year, it was particularly thoughtful of Showtime executive Ken Hershman to put the main event of his year-ending card on first Saturday night rather than waiting until after Vernon Forrest and Antonio Tarver had beaten pedestrian opponents in less-than-exciting fashion at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. That way, fans had the opportunity to see one of boxing's up-and-coming young stars and still get plenty of sleep without feeling like they'd missed anything. IBF flyweight champion Nonito Donaire made the first defense of his title an impressive one by dominating and badly bloodying Luis Maldonado before their bout was finally stopped at 1:16 of the eighth round. It was about two rounds too late for poor Maldonado, who ended up in a local Connecticut hospital to have both eyes heavily sutured to staunch what had become a raging river of his own plasma by the end of the third round. It was about seven rounds too late for Donaire, whose left hand was badly swollen after the fight from an injury he sustained in the opening round on the hard head of the challenger from Mexicali. But it was about right for fans just getting familiar with the fast hands and one-punch power of the Filipino Flash. When Donaire won the title by starching Vic Darchinyan in July with one punch, some chose to label it a fortuitous convergence of fist and chin. He was accused of being a one-punch wonder, even though Darchinyan was the 18th opponent he'd sent to the floor in 19 professional fights, 11 of whom declined to get up. That is why he was looking to use Maldonado as a measuring stick for the rest of the boxing world, who had seen Darchinyan stop the Mexican challenger in six rounds 17 months earlier. It took Donaire a round-and-a-half longer to dispose of him, but only because poor Maldonado had the misfortune of having both a brave referee and a brave ringside physician monitoring his condition. Cut above the left eye in the second round by a punch and over the right in the third by an inadvertent clash of heads, Maldonado spent the entire evening being drilled by hands far too fast for him to block even under the best of circumstances, and he was not in the best of circumstances from the outset. Despite his swollen hand and what Donaire later claimed was an inexplicable sluggishness, the champion made a clear statement to not only Darchinyan but also WBC champion Daisuke Naito, WBA titleholder Takefumi Sakata and WBO champ Omar Narvaez, that he is ready to match any of them, assuming they are willing to involve themselves in a unification effort that would require squaring off with a very heavy-handed, left-hook wielding opponent. "I'd love to fight Darchinyan again," Donaire (19-1, 12 KOs) said. "That's what boxing is [about]. I want to fight the best fighters. There were people who said I was a one-punch wonder after Darchinyan, but I came in there and did my thing. I guess my validation was today. I'm here to stay." If Darchinyan has no interest in trying to reclaim his title and the other flyweight champions don't want to become involved in a unification fight, Donaire would be just as happy to move up to super flyweight or even to challenge former champion Jorge Arce in the bantamweight division. Considering what he went through to come in at 111 pounds Saturday night, Donaire would probably welcome it in fact. "I couldn't get myself going," said Donaire, which would come as news to Maldonado. "I just felt slow; I couldn't move. I didn't have my legs. If I had my legs, it would have been an easier fight.
I want to fight all the best fighters I'm ready to fight anybody from 112 pounds to 118. I'll take them all down.
-- Nonito Donaire, on his willingness to fight anybody
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