x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Nonito Donaire is waiting in the wings

Given Manny Pacquaio's global appeal, stealing column inches away from the man regarded by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet is a tall order. But Nonito Donaire is giving it a go.

Given Manny Pacquaio's global appeal, colossal pulling power and popularity both inside and outside the boxing ring, stealing column inches away from the man regarded by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet is a tall order.

Even more so if you hail, like Pacquaio, from the Philippines.

But Nonito Donaire, the 28-year-old Filipino who earlier on Sunday stopped Mexico's Fernando Montiel in spectacular fashion with a second-round stoppage to claim the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles, appears happy to be the sideshow to the main event.

"Pacquiao has given me this opportunity and I will always thank him for that," Donaire said after his win at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. "I'm happy being No 2."

Donaire displayed the brutal power and switch-hit combinations that has seen him win 18 of his 27 fights (26-1) inside the distance, which has now seen him crowned a world champion in four different weight classes from flyweight to bantam.

The "Filipino Flash" may not be a name familiar to many on these shores, given that Pacquiao hogs the limelight with his record-breaking exploits as a belt holder, at one time or another, in eight separate weight divisions, but the comparisons between Donaire and the "Pac-Man" are many.

Both hail from General Santos City, South Cotabo, and went to the same school. Both men suffered defeats early in their careers - Donaire in just his second bout, against Rosendo Sanchez - while Pacquiao was beaten by countryman Rustico Torrecampo in his 12th professional contest.

Both have risen to a position of prominence from adversity, while their styles inside the square circle also draw comparison.

Pacquiao, 32, at times resembles a two-fisted maniac; a boxer rarely outworked in the ring. The sheer volume of shots thrown often accounts for his low statistics in terms of shots landed during most his fights. But when they do, they usually count.

Donaire is also a work-horse, a boxer who fights on the front foot and likes to control the ring rather than rely on counter-punches.

And both pack phenomenal power in their shots. The popular myth in boxing is that when dropping down or moving up a weight class something has to give: power or speed.

These two Filipinos blow that theory apart. Pacquaio has carried his Herculean strength and Usain Bolt-like speed from flyweight right through to super welterweight, which in old money, is 49kgs to 69kgs.

Donaire is arguably the more callous of the two in terms of the angles he fires punches from, but looks even stronger in the 53kg division (bantamweight) than he did in the 50kg tier and judging by the pace in which he disposed of Montiel on Sunday, is no slouch out of the blocks either.

sluckings@thenational.ae