Nonito Donaire’s class act
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2018 - 12:00am

There were calls for former world boxing champion Nonito Donaire, Jr. to retire after his loss by decision to Carl Frampton in Belfast last weekend. He’s 35 and the Filipino Flash has lost three of his last eight fights since 2014. Curiously, Manny Pacquiao has also lost three of his last eight bouts or since the knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 and he’s 39.

There have been similar calls for Pacquiao to hang up his gloves but history’s only eight-division world titlist is moving forward. He’s not done yet. And neither is Donaire. They say the hardest decision a fighter has to make is when to retire because boxing is like a way of life and the lure of the ring for that one more bout is difficult to ignore. For some fighters, extending their career beyond reasonable limits has caused serious physical damage. Two prime examples are Muhammad Ali and Freddie Roach. They fought several fights too many when they should’ve retired way before to preserve their well-being and faculties.

But Pacquiao and Donaire know their limits. They’re blessed with a sound mind. Pacquiao wouldn’t be doing as well as he is in the Senate if he weren’t gifted with intelligence. It’s the same situation with Donaire who’s constantly expanding his knowledge by reaching out to learn new things, whether it’s about the inner self, the ability to touch people’s lives or sport-related issues like nutrition. When it’s time to hang up those gloves, they’ll know and they’ll walk away with dignity.

At the moment, neither is prepared to say goodbye just yet. Pacquiao has created a major buzz in drumbeating his July 15 fight against WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur. Pacquiao doesn’t look anywhere close to writing an end to his boxing odyssey and in fact, has plans to do one or two more fights after Matthysse. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been brought up and Pacquiao himself said it’s not a remote possibility. Pacquiao’s future as a fighter will depend on how he does against Matthysse, a dangerous knockout artist.

As for Donaire, he’s thinking of moving down to the 122-pound superbantamweight division after his unsuccessful bid to beat Frampton in their featherweight contest. Dropping to the 118-pound bantamweight class is another plausible option. Donaire’s weight hasn’t been an issue since he embraced the Ketogenic diet last year. The Frampton loss opened his eyes to the reality that his power isn’t as potent in the featherweight division.

Like Pacquiao, Donaire has unfinished business. He’d like to end his career on a high note, wearing a world championship belt, on his way to the Hall of Fame. That’s what drives him. And like Pacquiao, Donaire is a class act and a tribute to his country.

After bowing to Frampton, Donaire showed no rancor. He took the setback like a man, make that, a gentleman. He didn’t rant. He didn’t cry hometown decision. He conceded the loss, analyzed what did him in and is moving on. That’s the way it should be in boxing which could do with less griping, whining and bellyaching. In a display of sportsmanship, Donaire even invited Belfast fans for a pint at a bar the night after the fight and got together with Frampton for dinner.

“I respectfully asked what he saw as my flaws and weaknesses and we had a great insightful conversion on how we could both rise to a different level in our respective weight classes,” said Donaire in a social media post. Donaire and Frampton are now friends forever. They battled fiercely in the ring and when the bell sounded in the 12th round, they were whaling away like murder was on their mind as the crowd burst into wild applause. Donaire deserves credit for what he did in and out of the ring in Belfast. He brought pride and honor to the homeland.

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