By Ryan Maquiñana
As Filipino fight fans gear up for one of the biggest domestic clashes in years between bantamweight contender Michael Domingo and former beltholder Drian Francisco, one of the country’s most celebrated trainers chimed in with his take on the matter.
“I like Domingo in this one,” Nonito Donaire Sr. said from his Kennel Boxing Gym in San Leandro, Calif. “He’s going to be too strong for Francisco.”
Donaire, a former strawweight known for his work with his two sons, Glenn and Nonito Jr., broke down the fight, which occurs Sept. 24 in Manila’s Cuneta Astrodome.
“If Drian stays on the outside, he has a chance, but inside, Domingo is much stronger than him and can eat him up. I think Domingo will win by stoppage in the later rounds.”
The 31-year-old Domingo (41-15-2, 19 KOs), of Cebu City, got back in the win column with a sixth-round stoppage of Richard Samosir two weeks ago.
“Domingo has skills and it doesn’t show in his record,” Donaire said. “I saw him fight here in Sacramento a couple years ago, and he can really punch.”
Francisco (20-1-1, 16 KOs), the former WBA interim junior bantamweight champion from Batangas, saw a potential deal from Golden Boy evaporate when he ceded his WBA interim junior bantamweight title to Tepparith Singwancha in May via unanimous decision.
“[Francisco] throws wide, swinging punches, and won’t help him with a guy like Domingo, who if they give him a chance and bring him to America, he can be a world champion.”
Donaire is currently helping former two-time world title challenger Glenn with a planned comeback, and he once steered Marvin Sonsona to the WBO junior bantamweight crown before a lack of discipline on the fighter’s part sent his world tumbling down in his two ensuing fights.
“I hope so, but I really don’t know,” he said when asked if he thought Sonsona could return to form. “Marvin’s got all the skills in the world but all the distractions, too. It’s up to him to get his life together.”
Donaire had his own share of controversy outside the ring when his strained relationship with Nonito Jr. became full-blown in the Filipino media. However, the two have reconciled, and Nonito Sr. is looking forward to make up for lost time with his son.
“It’s just great to be able to talk to my son again,” he said. “He’s coming back from the Philippines soon, and I hope to see him again then.”
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and The Ring’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.