Lacking punch: Nonito Donaire of the Philippines

Bay Area boxer fighting for a flash of glory

It’s been Nonito Donaire’s moniker for most of his professional fist-fighting life.

His exquisite speed of hand and foot while toiling in Bay Area boxing gyms led to his branding as “The Filipino Flash.” But flashy, in addition to fast, is how the elite Peninsula-based pugilist fights.

That’s how Donaire fought — or tried to fight — in his last contest against the defensively competent but offensively unwilling Argentine Omar Narvaez.

Donaire didn’t lose a single round that October night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. But his flashy style, coupled with a technical, defensive opponent and weight-making issues, failed to excite the Garden crowd.

They booed.    

“I felt bad for my fans,” said Donaire, who will move up a weight class and aim to excite in his 122-pound debut on Saturday against Puerto Rican former belt-holder Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in San Antonio. “I won the fight, and I was happy with that. I did give it all I got, but I wanted the fans. I wanna give them a good time.”

If Donaire’s intention is to give the Texas crowd and HBO broadcast a good time, he has the right man in front of him. Vazquez, 27, is a fine fighter who has been bested only once in 23 contests. He lacks the ring savvy of Donaire’s last opponent, but Vazquez will enter the ring Saturday not with the intent to survive, but to win.

“I can’t take him lightly … because he’s very determined to beat me,” Donaire said. “He’ll pull everything in his arsenal to try to do that.”

It’s an arsenal that includes a decent left hook and a willingness to move forward. But perhaps most telling about Vazquez is that the one time he faced an elite opponent, he lost. He was knocked out last year by a Mexican mauler, thought-to-be-washed-up Jorge Arce. And if he lost to Arce, he could lose to the flashy Filipino, too.

Donaire believes he’ll win Saturday. He’s already looking to face fellow 122-pounders Arce and lanky Japanese southpaw Toshiaki Nishioka. But Guillermo Rigondeaux, a 9-0 two-time gold medalist who defected from Cuba in 2009, is also looking to get a crack at “The Flash.”

“That would be great,” Donaire said. “But he just came into the picture, and he’s calling me out. Which is fine. But I believe that he’s a boring fighter. If you guys want to see another Narvaez fight … I’m fine with that.”

But first up is Vazquez, and Donaire had best take care of him Saturday.

 

World Championship Boxing

– WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.

– WHERE: Alamodome, San Antonio

– TV: HBO

– AT STAKE: Vacant WBO super bantamweight title

 

Tale of the tape

Nonito Donaire Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
Age 29 27
Record 27-1 (18 KOs) 21-1-1 (18 KOs)
Height 5-foot-5½ 5-foot-5½
Reach 68 inches 66 inches

 

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