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Freeman Cebu Sports

Flashback

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

Athletes end their careers in diverse fashion. Some appear in the horizon like a shooting star. Fit today, pfft tomorrow. Probably next week, the notorious French Open reiterates this phenomenon and more of its unpredictable fancy for one-slam wonders in the distaff side. Never mind the men’s division, you know who dominates it to boredom.

Some arrived potentially good, left disappointingly bad but returned surprisingly better. Andre Agassi plucked himself out of a slump to complete a career slam. Lydia de Vega retired after her peak due in part to motherhood. Written off as a has-been, the sprint queen came back older but faster. Michael Jordan left basketball mastery for baseball mediocrity and returned to basketball perfection. These are inspiring stories of comeback kids, who went away for different reasons but reappeared with more weapons.

Last Sunday, boxing reinstalled a king dethroned. Not a kid, but middle-aged, neither balding nor with belly bulging, it’s the Filipino Flash. Nonito Donaire threw back his old brilliance to flush down Nordine Oubaali in the fourth round to become oldest bantamweight champion in history at 38. We all thought the articulate slugger was gone for good, after he lost the fight of the year to unbeaten Japanese Naoya Inoue in 2019. But he trained in obscurity to stage a stunning comeback no one saw coming, except his gut feeling.

Donaire downed the French southpaw with a left hook twice in the third round. He lost patience in the next, ended the fight off with a three-punch combination. Finish early to avoid come from behind victory. Go for the kill, from Inoue that’s what he learned, and death is what Oubaali earned. The referee had no choice but stop the fight. Enough. He gave Nordine all the chances for redemption, he could have waived off the lopsided slugfest early on. His conscience is now clear, with the winner clearer. 

Nonito declared the king has returned. Cocky, for those who don’t like him, celebratory, for those who do. And now Donaire declares interest in a grudge rematch against Inoue to settle once and for all what could have been. We can’t blame him. He damaged his Japanese foe’s eye socket but still lost. Boxing is demanding. You have to win it clean. Knock your way out of error margin in judging. We can’t blame the judges either. Punches thrown are faster than the discerning eyes blown. Exactly what Donaire did to reclaim the game and his name. He is back not with anger but with hunger. He wants to be undisputed in a sport most disputed.

Looks like he can. Still lightning fast, remains deadliest when he unhooks his left hook. The same crushing weapon he unleashed in 2007 when he won his first title. The left hook. No one please tags him red. It’s just the opposite of the right hand, which is not necessarily the wrong hand.

NONITO DONAIRE
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