Donaire deserves pound-for-pound ranking: analyst

Posted at 10/16/2012 3:23 PM | Updated as of 10/16/2012 3:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire's dominant performance against Japanese boxer Toshiaki Nishioka in their super bantamweight clash last Saturday justifies his ranking as one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

This, according to ESPN boxing analyst Dan Rafael. 

Rafael was impressed with Donaire's ninth-round technical knockout victory over Nishioka, who was a former super bantamweight champion and one of Japan's top fighters.

"Fight after fight, Donaire has taken on quality opponents and won easily. He did it again against Nishoka, a serious opponent," Rafael said.

"For Donaire to dominate such a quality opponent the way he did tells you just how good he is, and that he is well deserving of his place in the pound-for-pound top 10," he added.

Donaire is currently ranked seventh in ESPN's pound-for-pound list, and fifth in The RING pound-for-pound ratings.

"Nishioka was no joke, even though he fought a disappointing fight. He came into the bout regarded as Japan's best fighter and he had the credentials to warrant that status, in addition to inclusion on the ESPN.com top 20 pound-for-pound," Rafael wrote.

But Nishioka fought very cautiously against Donaire, throwing only eight punches in the opening round and keeping his right hand up nearly the entire time. He was knocked down in the sixth round by a left uppercut, which spurred him into greater action.

Once Nishioka opened up, however, Donaire was able to show his counter-punching ability. Pinned against the ropes in the ninth round, "The Filipino Flash" countered Nishioka's flurry with a perfect counter-right. The fight was stopped moments later.

"This was an excellent victory for Donaire, who said he thought it was his biggest win," Rafael said.

Meanwhile, in a story on Grantland, Rafe Bartholomew – the author of "Pacific Rims" – noted that "Donaire's opponents quickly go from fighting to surviving." 

Bartholomew said that since he brutally knocked out Fernando Montiel in February 2011, "Donaire hasn't had an opportunity to put on a dazzling performance."

"The fighters Donaire has faced all take on the instincts of a pill bug once they feel his power. We rarely see the full range of Donaire's skills, such as counter-punching and defense, because his foes don’t give him much reason to use them," he wrote.

"Instead, we see him chase guys who just want to avoid getting knocked out, and we judge him based on how artfully he stalks them," Bartholomew added.

Bartholomew asserts that if this trend continues for Donaire, then fight fans may have to change the way they judge the best boxers in the world.

"Is the best fighter in the world the guy who shows the most complete and sublime skills, or is it the guy whose speed and power is so scary that it convinces professional fighters that against him, the last thing they want to do is fight?"