By Ryan Songalia
IBF flyweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. attended the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao rematch not as a mere spectator, but as a credentialed commentator for the Filipino television channel Solar Sports. While giving his blow by blow account, Donaire kept a scorecard handy, tallying the fight unofficially. When his marks were tabulated, Donaire's card was in favor of the incumbent titlist.
"I scored each round not knowing who was winning the fight," Donaire, 19-1 (12 KO), said. "I looked at it, it was close each round. Round by round, I put who I thought won that round. When I calculated, I had Marquez winning by one point 114-113. It was a very close fight."
Donaire added that he felt "Pacquiao was doing the harder punching."
Regardless of who deserved the victory, Donaire said, "it was more than entertaining, it was historical. That fight really inspired me knowing that both guys got hurt and still fought on. Their stamina was at an incredible level. Both men gave it their all. It was just great to be there and witness such a great fight."
Many, particularly the Marquez camp and their supporters, complained that the defending titlist was on the wrong side of an unjust decision. Donaire says "no way" was it a robbery, and that "it could've gone either way," considering the shifting tides in each individual stanza.
"I see nothing to complain. No one was dominating the fight. If it went to Marquez, it wouldn't have been a robbery. If it went to Pacquiao, it wouldn't have been a robbery."
Looking forward, Pacquiao's next assignment is set against fellow Top Rank employee and WBC lightweight title claimant David Diaz. While it's apparent that Pacquiao needs the additional five pounds of comfort to continue making contractual weights, Donaire isn't sure that fighting bigger men will continue to bear the same fruits as at 130. That said, he thinks Diaz is in over his head.
"Diaz isn't at the level of Marquez. If Morales was able to drop Diaz, I think Pacquiao can take Diaz out. You never really know until it's there. Diaz is a lot bigger than Pacquiao. He might have trouble in the form of fighting bigger guys."
Meanwhile, Donaire has his own fight to worry about. The next defense of his title is slated for April 18 in Dubai against Hussein Hussein. "So far so good," Donaire says of his training. Donaire seemed underwhelmed, calling it "just another fight." He did promise to "give it all I got," further stating that "all I'm thinking about is settling this in the ring."
Hussein, 31-4 (24 KO), whose older brother Nedal once fought Pacquiao in a disputed bout, has twice contested for world titles unsuccessfully. His last appearance was this past December, dropping a unanimous decision to Japan's Hiroyuki Hisataka.
Donaire says that he will move up in weight "if there aren't any more challenges at 112." Continued "The Filipino Flash", "I'm not going to stand and defend and defend. I want to fight the best out there. [Super-flyweight] has Mijares, Montiel, Arce, I want to go for that. I want to have a fight like Pacquiao-Marquez or Pacquiao-Morales, something great."
On an unfortunate note, Donaire's chief sparring partner Rafael Valenzuela Jr. and a teammate were struck by a 200-pound Marquez-Pacquiao sign near Starbucks at the Mandalay Bay after the fight. Both were sent to the emergency room, where Valenzuela received 20 stitches to close a gash. His teammate was knocked unconscious and the extent of his injuries is unknown at time of print.
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