Every once in a great while, a fighter seeking to achieve everlasting greatness creates a signature moment that fans and historians will point to whenever his legacy is discussed.
For Rocky Marciano it was the sledgehammer “Suzy Q” right that separated Jersey Joe Walcott from his senses as well as the heavyweight championship in September 1952.
For Thomas Hearns it was the concussive cross that crushed Roberto Duran’s iron jaw in their June 1984 unification fight, a punch that left “Manos de Piedra” in a semi-conscious haze for several surreal minutes.
For Joe Frazier it was the hellacious hook that sent Muhammad Ali flying onto his back in the final round of their classic first fight in March 1971, cementing “Smokin’ Joe’s” status as undisputed heavyweight champion.
On Saturday night it was Nonito Donaire’s turn to produce that highlight-reel moment that will send collectors scurrying for their DVD copies for decades to come. Just as Sergio Martinez had done two months earlier in his rematch against Paul Williams, “The Filipino Flash” unleashed an electrifying counter left that effectively ended Fernando Montiel’s quest to retain his WBC and WBO bantamweight belts and rocketed Donaire up the pound-for-pound charts.
Montiel, who was left twitching on the canvas just moments earlier, miraculously regained his feet. But while his spirit was willing his body was in no shape to obey. Donaire’s brief follow-up assault connected with frightening flushness and prompted referee Russell Mora to belatedly intervene at the 2:25 mark.
Although Donaire was the superior ring general, the CompuBox statistics were less lopsided. Donaire landed 17 of 63 (27 percent) overall while Montiel was 14 of 44 (32 percent). Strangely, the shorter Montiel was far more successful with the jab (7 of 21, 33 percent to 2 of 31, 6 percent) but Donaire’s power punching ultimately proved decisive (15 of 32, 47 percent to 7 of 23, 30 percent).
The PunchZone maps indicate that both men focused their attacks to the head. Eight of Montiel’s head connects were produced by lefts while rights netted three and one landed blow struck Donaire’s chin. Meanwhile, Donaire’s 14 head connects were more balanced as four each struck Montiel’s chin and the right side of Donaire’s head while the remaining six targeted the left side.
Body punching was extremely limited as all three of Donaire’s connects hit Montiel’s right side while the Mexican landed one punch to each flank. Neither registered a low blow.
It remains to be seen whether Donaire joins Marciano, Frazier (and eventually Hearns) in the Hall of Fame, but no matter what unfolds, he forever will have that special moment when everything – including his worthy opponent – fell into place.
JONES W 12 SOTO KARASS
In the co-feature, undefeated welterweight Mike Jones opted for anatomy (6-0, 72-inch reach) over geography (the Philadelphia warrior’s mindset) in pounding out a unanimous decision over Jesus Soto-Karass, who just three months earlier pushed Jones to a disputed 10-round majority nod.
Their two fights couldn’t have been more different. The first encounter saw Jones dominate statistically (258-141 in total connects, 90-11 in landed jabs and 168-130 in power connects) yet Soto-Karass’ consistent aggression and effort persuaded many he deserved the win. The second round saw Jones land 49 of 90 power shots, an effort that virtually emptied his gas tank and allowed Soto-Karass to recover.
The rematch proved Jones not only knew what his mistakes were but that he has the intelligence and discipline to fix them in short order. In his first scheduled 12 rounder, Jones used his physical assets to command distance and his mind to maintain an active but controlled pace.
In the end he enjoyed the best of all worlds; he fought a much better fight yet expanded his statistical dominance. Jones landed 408 of 846 (48 percent) to Soto-Karass’ 226 of 993 (23 percent) overall and Jones enjoyed above-average effectiveness with his jab (226 of 502, 45 percent) and power shots (182 of 344, 53 percent). As always, Soto-Karass tried his best but he couldn’t keep up with Jones in any department (93 of 460, 20 percent in jabs and 133 of 533, 25 percent in power punches).
The round-by-round breakdowns offered more evidence of Jones’ command. For example, Soto-Karass’ highest connect total was 26 in the 10th, a figure Jones exceeded from round two onward.
Also, 40 percent is a benchmark for outstanding accuracy. Jones surpassed that rate in all 12 rounds overall (his 65 percent on 51 of 78 punches was his high-water mark) and he duplicated that success in power punching. In the ninth alone, Jones went 26 of 34 for an incredible 76 percent connect rate. In jabs, Jones exceeded 40 percent marksmanship 10 times with a 28 for 39 performance (72 percent) being his best.
Conversely, Soto-Karass’ best accuracy overall was 27 percent (which he reached in rounds four, nine and 10), 29 percent in jabs (rounds one and 10) and 32 percent in power shots (round eight).
The PunchZone maps further illuminated Jones’ effectiveness. An extraordinary 305 of Jones’ 408 connects struck Soto-Karass’ face with 135 hitting the chin, 87 striking the right side of the head and 83 connecting with the left side. But Jones did not neglect the body, as the red welts on Soto-Karass’ flanks attested. Of Jones’ 103 body connects, hooks produced 47 while rights netted 53.
Soto-Karass’ did get in his share of licks despite Jones’ pronounced mobility. Of his 142 connected head shots, lefts produced 44 hits, rights registered 51 and 47 hit Jones’ chin. The Mexican totaled 82 body connects with lefts striking 50 times and rights hitting 32 times. Soto-Karass was “credited” with two low blows while Jones was clean.
With this performance, Jones stamped himself as a potential player in the talent-laden welterweight division. It’s doubtful that he’ll get to fight the likes of Pacquiao or Mayweather because they have different agendas in mind but others will have little choice but to consider him – just before their management teams begin hatching ways to avoid him.