Keeping Promises: Fernando Montiel-Nonito Donaire Preview


While Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire are promising fireworks Saturday night in Las Vegas, devoted boxing fans are hoping their bout doesn’t evoke memories of a similar matchup four and a half years ago: Montiel’s last HBO showcase, a much anticipated but brutally disappointing 2006 clash against Jhonny Gonzalez.

Montiel, 44-2-2, has since knocked out nine of twelve opponents in mostly exciting affairs, but because his HBO appearances—the other being a majority decision loss to Mark Johnson in 2003— have been less than rousing, he still battles the perception of being a boring fighter.

Following a controversial technical draw against Alejandro Valdez, his surprising fourth-round KO over red-hot Hozumi Hasegawa has largely put him back in the good graces of the hardcore contingent. As one of the better finishers in the hurt game, Montiel, Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, mixes unorthodox feints with powerful left hooks and uppercuts to dispose wounded prey before they regain their senses.

That certainly doesn’t guarantee fireworks against the sharp reflexes of “The Filipino Flash.” As the Gonzalez bout illustrated, a bigger opponent can temper Montiel’s aggression, and if that staggering shot never materializes, promises of war can quickly turn into an uneventful match of wits. And while his adversary Saturday night has no shortage of power, he can be a calculating counter-puncher with the foot speed to avoid consistent contact (read: boring).

Nonito Donaire’s performances since blasting Vic Darchinyan in 2007 has quite literally alternated from uninspiring to awe-inspiring. While his dominant knockouts over Raul Martinez, Manuel Vargas, and Volodymyr Sydorenko showcased his special blend of speed and power, victories over Moruti Mthalane, Rafael Concepcion, and Hernan Marquez were worryingly bland struggles. He has an excuse for each—Mthlane is probably better than most people think, Concepcion cheated and came in four pounds overweight, and a hip injury limited Donaire against Marquez—but they’re not exactly reassurances that he’ll come out guns blazing against the class of Montiel.

So while a slugfest may not be in the books, the intrigue is obvious when two premier bantamweights with fight-ending power square off.

From either side, possibilities range from early destruction to tedious decision. Physical advantages in height, reach, and speed justifiably influenced oddsmakers to tab Donaire, 25-1, as the 2 to 1 favorite. A steady jab against his shorter foe should accentuate those advantages, but his compulsion towards stance-switching and “experimenting” best be subdued. Donaire as a southpaw leaves himself far more vulnerable than he is with his left foot forward, where he possesses one of the more lethal counter left hooks in the game.

The sneaking suspicion here is that Montiel is more comfortable than Donaire, San Leandro, California, is in long fights. With a high ring IQ, the 31-year- old tends to make the proper adjustments to prosper during the mid to late rounds. Donaire’s flash may own the early going, but if Montiel survives the onslaught, the bout’s likely to tighten down the stretch.

At which point—when Montiel’s guile catches up with Donaire’s incandescent style—something memorable erupts and promises are kept.

Or at least that’s the hope.



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Tags: BANTAMWEIGHTS Fernando Montiel Nonito Donaire

  • Carlos Acevedo

    Hi Michael,

    I’m probably guilty of overrating Donaire at this point. But he has that athleticism that is hard to adjust to in the ring. At times, as you noted, he looks awesome; other times, he looks just plain old good. If he starts to lose focus and backpedal against Montiel–as he did against the oversized Concepcion–he could be in some trouble. But I think he’ll play boxer-puncher tomorrow night and try to keep Montiel off-balance.

    Montiel is one of my favorite fighters, despite the fact that he stunk out the joint against Gonzalez. A very talented boxer, with the kind of smarts that can offset an opponent’s advantages. Getting floored by Valdez is troubling, though, and Montiel was behind when he dropped the hammer on Hasegawa. Maybe, at 31, he’s past his peak slightly, but I think he’ll still be a force in the ring. I wonder if he’ll be more cautious than he has been recently, though. It’ll be interesting to see what style he adopts against Donaire, who does have a somewhat cavalier defense.

    In the end, to me, a good fight–and maybe some shots of Rachel Donaire on HBO–is all that matters.

    • Michael Nelson

      Hey Carlos,

      I think Donaire’s a pretty awesome fighter myself. We’ve seen Montiel come on strong late in fights on a number of occasions which has me thinking he’ll get stronger as it goes along, but there’s no real evidence to suggest Donaire’s going to weaken late either.

      If I was still a betting man, I’d put a few dollars on a Donaire decision, riding out an early lead in a pretty good scrap.

  • Andrew Fruman

    Chalk that one up in the awe-inspiring category.

    I’ve been on the Donaire bandwagon for awhile, but I did not anticipate that kind of destruction. Perhaps I’m just overly pesimistic these days when it comes to my expectations, but even with the fight ending power both guys brought to the fight, I was still leaning more towards the “tedious decision” result.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Andrew,

      Donaire has been pretty destructive lately, and except for his fight with Concepcion, he’s looked like the type that wants to put on a show in the ring. That’s exactly what we need from fighters. If he keeps up the “Lord of Chaos” role in the ring, people are going to take notice of him and that’s what every fighter should want. These guys who get booed in their own hometowns, or who draw 982 3/4 fans, or who are mocked on Twitter….give ‘em their walking papers already…

    • Michael Nelson

      Yeah, the Sydorenko thrashing probably should’ve clued me in that Donaire was done messing around. Back-to-back obliterations of guys who simply don’t get obliterated.