Nonito Donaire believes he’s compiled a respectful resume through 45 career fights to earn his due spot in Canastota, New York.
The soon-to-be 37-year-old Filipino fighter believes he’s a Hall of Famer as of this minute, with or without a win against Naoya Inoue on Thursday.
“I’m no doubt a Hall of Famer. I’m a nine-time world champion across five divisions. A lot of people can’t say that. I also have fighter of the year honors and knockout of the year twice. I’ve acquired a lot of accolades. But I still want to be undisputed at 118, and that’s what I am working with my resurgence. Being undisputed is the goal of this resurrection. I’m tremendously excited for this fight.”
Donaire (40-5, 26 KOs), the WBA bantamweight champion, and Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs), the IBF crownholder, will also be fighting for the Ali Trophy as part of the final of the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on Nov. 7. The bout will stream on DAZN beginning at 5 am. ET.
Donaire’s dossier is among one of the best of any active fighter today. He owns two wins against Vic Darchinyan, the first of which officially put him on the map in 2007 with a destructive, knockout of the year upset. Four years after dismantling Darchinyan, Donaire defeated unified bantamweight titlist Fernando Montiel with yet another knockout of the year. His stunning performance that night earned him 2011 fighter of the year honors by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
In later years, he defeated notable world champions like Jorge Arce and Toshiaki Nishioka (2012) and Ryan Burnett (2018). His losses have come to the hands of Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nicholas Walters, Carl Frampton and a disputed decision to Jessie Magdaleno.
“I’m not focused too much on my legacy—just more of the fighter I am now and getting the best of my abilities. I’m going to keep bringing it and gaining more. I want to do that for myself,” said Donaire.
“I love what I do. If I can push it further till 40, I will. I don’t want to have any regrets of leaving too soon. I will listen to my family, my body, and decide when it’s time to hang up my gloves. But I am going to make the best of it. The fountain of youth is in the mind, the heart, the will, the courage to push and bring everything that you have. You have to allow yourself to be confident to convince yourself you are 20 years old, even if you’re 50.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at [email protected].