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Nonito Donaire revitalizes career beating Ryan Burnett

Nonito Donaire

By Allan Fox: Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25 KOs) pumped new life into his boxing career last Saturday night in stopping WBA Super World bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett (19-1, 9 KOs) in the 4th round in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight quarterfinal at The SSE Hydro, Glasgow.

Burnett suddenly came up lame in the 4th round seconds after getting hit by a hard shot from Donaire. Burnett took a knee, and clutched the right side of his back with a look of pain on his face. Burnett was able to get back up and continue fighting, but he was no longer effective. Donaire was hitting the injured Burnett with everything but the kitchen sink for the remaining moments of the fourth. After the round ended, Burnett was pulled out of the fight by his trainer. He was then ushered out of the ring on a stretcher.

There’s some disagreement from boxing fans about the cause of Burnett’s injury. Some feel that a hard body shot that Donaire hit Burnett with in round three hurt him. Burnett flinched after absorbing the blow. A round later, Burnett dropped to the canvas moments after being hit with another body shot.

“At the beginning, I was putting too much power,” Donaire said to IFL TV about his fight with Burnett. “I was fighting a heavier guy. Early on, I started to feel that. I just wanted to put the power in it. My coach Kenny [Adams] told me, ‘You’ve got to adjust, you’ve got to use your jab, and jab and faint.’ That’s why I started to utilize my speed. That’s when I started to feel more comfortable,” Donaire said.

Donaire’s punching power was the difference in the fight. He started put landing single power shots early in the 1st round. In rounds 2, 3 and 4, Donaire made an adjustment by throwing more combinations with major power. That’s when Burnett started to crumble. He wasn’t able to take Donaire’s power shots as well as the fighters had at super bantamweight and featherweight. Burnett lacked the size and experience to take the heavy blows that Donaire was tagging him with.

Burnett looked good in the opening round with the head-snapping jabs, and right hands that he was catching Donaire with. The shots from Burnett were snapping Donaire’s head back, and making him look old. In the 2nd round, Burnett nailed Donaire with a powerful right to the head earlier in the round that had the pro-Burnett crowd cheering with enthusiasm. Later in the round, Donaire went on the attack, backing Burnett up, and hitting him with a flurry of shots when he had him trapped against the ropes. Throughout Donaire’s career, he would knockout his opponents when he had them in a similar position and taking heavy blows. Burnett showed a great chin in being able to take Donaire’s heaviest blows without collapsing to the canvas. Donaire is 35-years-old, and slower than he was earlier in his career, but his punching power looked as devastating as it always had. It was clear that if Donaire was able to continue to land his big power shots, Burnett was going to wind up just like his previous knockout victims.

Showing his class, Donaire revealed that he told Burnett, 26, after the fight that he didn’t want to win the fight based on him suffering a back injury. Donaire told the Irish fighter Burnett that he wants him to heal and come back from the injury. Donaire was impressed with the talent of Burnett, who landed a lot of good punches during the fight before he suffered the fight-ending back injury.

“That’s why I told him, ‘I don’t want to win it this way,’” Donaire said about his victory over Burnett. “I just told him he’s a great fighter. He’s a great champion, just raise his head high, and heal and get better.”

Burnett has’t said yet whether he’ll ask for a rematch against Donaire. A second fight between the two can’t happen until after the World Boxing Super Series tournament ends. Donaire isn’t expected to win the WBSS tournament, although he could win his semifinal fight against Zolani Tete (28-3, 21 KOs), who is a vulnerable champion in holding down the World Boxing Organization bantamweight title.

Last night, Donaire’s power started to help him gain a footing in the Burnett fight after a shaky first two rounds. Rounds one and two were quite close with neither fighter establishing themselves as the more dominant of the two. Donaire began to land blistering shots in the final seconds of round two that was a harbinger for things to come. In round three, Donaire looked like his old self from seven years ago, nailing Burnett with huge shots to the head and body. The body shots looked especially devastating from Donaire, as they seemed to have the more effect. Burnett was wilting each time Donaire landed to the body, and his later back injury may have been the result of those vicious body shots.

In the 4th, Donaire continued to land his hard shots to the head and body. It was apparent early on that if Burnett didn’t figure out a way to get out of range of Donaire’s shots, he wasn’t going to last much longer. You could see from Burnett’s body language that he wasn’t reacting well to the punches Donaire was landing. The reason for that is obvious. Burnett didn’t have the size to take the heavy blows that Donaire was hitting him with. When Donaire was fighting at featherweight against fighters like Carl Frampton, Jessie Magdaleno and Nicholas Walters, those guys could take his shots, for the reason being that they were nearly 140 lbs after they rehydrated. Donaire was fighting guys that were bigger and heavier than him. It’s no great surprise that they could handle his power. But in the case of Burnett, he didn’t have the mass to take Donaire’s punches like the fighters he’d been facing at bantamweight.

“I felt really good at the weight,” Donaire said about coming back down to 118 for the first time in seven years. “At the beginning, I felt a little bit rusty coming in, but then I started to shake it off and utilize my speed, which is a really big key for me to use in the tournament for anything,” Donaire said.

Donaire did look very strong after making the 118 lb bantamweight limit last Friday for the weigh-in. Donaire looked so powerful and so good at bantamweight, it makes you wonder why he didn’t move back down to the 118 lb weight division five years ago when he started to have problems after he was beaten by Guillermo Rigondeaux at super bantamweight in 2013. Instead of Donaire moving back down to 118 after the defeat to Rigondeaux, he chose to move up in weight to featherweight, which was clearly the wrong decision for him to make. Donaire reasoned at the time that his loss to Rigondeaux was because he was weakened from having made the 122 lb weight limit. The reality was that Donaire lost to Rigondeaux because he was a talented fighter with a style that was all wrong for him. Donaire should have moved back down to 118 where he was a monster.

Donaire says his next fight against WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete could potentially take place in the Philippines in Manila. The World Boxing Super Series organizers are looking at potentially making the Donaire vs. Tete semifinal fight take place in Manila.

“That would be really good,” Donaire said about his semifinal fight against Zolani Tete potentially taking place in Manila in the Philippines. “That’s what they’re going to try to do.”

Having the fight take place in Manila would be a huge advantage for Donaire, who was born in the Philippines and has a huge fan base in that country. If Donaire can fight Tete in the Philippines, it would give him a big advantage.

”The only thing in my head is to study, and be ready for Tete,” Donaire said about him wanting to prepare for Zolani Tete by studying his fights to spot his weaknesses. ”Right now, it’s to study and be ready for Tete. Now is the time to adjust and to learn, and what we’re going to do is to learn,” Donaire said.

Tete isn’t as skilled as Donaire or as powerful. Tete, 5’9″, has been using his huge size and punching power to beat lesser guys in the bantamweight division. Tete hasn’t been fighting the quality fighters in the 118 lb weight division like Burnett, Donaire, Naoya Inoue, Luis Nery and Emmanuel Rodriguez. Although Tete does look quite good, those guys look to be a cut above him in the talent department. Tete’s best wins during his 12-year pro career have come against Paul Butler, Mikhail Aloyan, Omar Narvaez and Arthur Villanueva. Those guys aren’t at the same level as Donaire, Burnett and Inoue. All the fighters that Tete has fought during his career would likely lose to Donaire, even the guys that he lost to.

”Ryan is a great fighter, so I don’t disregard what they feel,” Donaire said when asked what his thoughts were about the many boxing fans that had picked Burnett to beat him. ”As you can see, he was landing some good punches on me. It’s just personal choice and personal preferences in how they see fights to be. For me, I know I came in here with a great game plan, great speed, and that’s what they’re going to see more often from me,” Donaire said.

The boxing fans that picked against Donaire didn’t realize how good he was when he was fighting in his best weight class for his body at bantamweight. The fans only knew Donaire from when he was fighting outside of his weight class against bigger guys at featherweight.

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