COMMENTARY: Donaire Odyssey: A class of his own

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/09 July) — After the fifth round of the Nonino Donaire-Jeffrey Mathebula unification fight, I decided it was time to drive to Koronadal City to attend the burial of Jonas, eldest son of fellow journalist Allen Estabillo.

Jonas died of dengue fever Thursday last week, days after a family excursion and out of town trip made him swear it was the greatest day of his life.   Allen and his wife could not hold out their grief and other fellow journalists, most of them from MindaNews, shared their sorrow.

Despite it all, Allen still was composed enough to volunteer that Donaire won as soon as we shook hands at the church where the eulogy was held.

I was a bit disappointed Donaire was not able to put away the lanky and awkward South African who dropped to the canvass near the end of the fourth round, courtesy of a short but powerful left hook from the Filipino-American champion.

Donaire stomped his class right in the opening round by chasing the taller Mathebula and picking him up with his left hooks.  Mathebula was already out of the fight right at the beginning as his decidedly longer reach was no match to the speed and power of Donaire.

For the first time in recent memory, Donaire was bulldozing his way knowing he can take Mathebula’s best shots.  But Donaire also made the South African look even more awkward to the point of being amateurish.

I have yet to see the full replay of the fight but from the stories and accounts of those who saw the fight live and on television, Mathebula was in survival mode throughout the fight although he occasionally traded punches with the Filipino.   The knockdown in the fourth, the first in Mathebula’s career, nailed it for him.  Had there been 20 seconds more left instead of 2 seconds, the fight surely would have ended in the same round as Mathebula was clearly out of senses.

Donaire annexed the World Boxing Organization superbantamweight title to add to his International Boxing Federation crown.  Donaire is currently a three-weight division champion having won titles earlier in the super flyweight and flyweight classes.

He dreams of following the footsteps of fellow General Santos City-raised Manny Pacquiao who won a record eight-division world boxing titles.

Of course that dream also extends into his pay checks.

Despite occupying a lofty ranking in the top pound for pound boxing list in the world, Donaire has yet to topbill an HBO pay per view and hit the million dollar purse mark.  His purse for the Mathebula fight was mere US$750,000.

Mathebula fight was mere US$750,000. Donaire owns two of the Knockout Year fights in this millennium.  One was a stunning upset of Armenian Vic Darchinyan and the other was a vicious knockdown of Mexican Fernando Montiel – all singularly inflicted by his powerful left hook.

Donaire is one of the best technically sound champions there is today.  He is also one of the more exciting one-punch KO artists.

But he is fighting in a weight class that hardly attracts attention from mainstream sports channels that bring in the money fights.  On Sunday, he was still fighting in a makeshift boxing arena outside Home Depot Center in Carson, California instead of MGM Grand or Mandalay despite being the main event attraction.

Top Rank’s Bob Arum is promising bigger fights for Donaire in the coming months.

The 5’7” Fil-Am surely deserves it.  After all, there is no other fighter that is as exciting as Donaire today.  By golly, he looks even better than Manny Pacquiao in the latter’s last five fights.

Bob Arum and HBO better be quick.  There is another gold mine in Donaire.  A class of his own. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for