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Nonito Donaire faces Toshiaki Nishioka on HBO Boxing After Dark tomorrow night. Who wins? The Bad Left Hook staff make their picks.
I think Donaire has lost a step since moving up to super bantamweight, but I think this is the fight for him to break out with a long anticipated spectacular finish. Nishioka, at 36, is pretty old for a super bantamweight. And I've honestly never been impressed with his defense. He lacks head movement. I recall (but didn't actually save
my card) Nishioka losing the first 5 rounds to Rafael Marquez before physically overwhelming his older and more faded opponent. Marquez pretty much beat him with the jab alone in the early rounds from my memory. I think Donaire does the same and I think he'll be able to sneak in the right hand behind it, which will eventually take Nishioka out. Donaire TKO-10
Age is a factor, especially as you get to the lower weight classes. I probably would trust Nishioka a bit more if he had fought more recently than he has, but he's older and has been sitting around for a year. He's still a skilled and experienced boxer who isn't going to get blown out, especially not by a fighter like Donaire whose defensive deficiencies keep fighters a little more competitive than they should be.
But this is a case where Donaire will likely be too strong, too fast and too good for the aging champion. I'll take Donaire by mid-rounds stoppage in what will have been a competitive bout to that point.
If Donaire punches in combination and doesn't go in spurts looking for a knockout, he'll win this fight with plenty of room to spare. But if he gives Nishioka chances to stay in it, the Japanese veteran will take advantage and make this very competitive. I do expect it will be a good fight either way, but my gut feeling is Nishioka isn't 100% there anymore, physically or mentally. I think he's close to ready to call it a career, and has taken the biggest fight he could. That's admirable, but it doesn't sound like a formula for beating one of the best fighters in the world. And even if Nishioka is at his best, my feeling is that will bring the best out of Nonito, too, and he's got the bigger reserve of talent to call on, I believe. Donaire UD-12
A fight with Nishioka is something Nonito Donaire's wanted for a long time, and now he's got his chance it's hard to see him fluffing his lines. I think he knows he's in deep, but that's always been the point - Nishioka represents the pinnacle of the division Donaire set himself up for a long run at.
When comparing their respective records, there's not a huge amount in it. Donaire probably edges it in terms of quality and experience in the opposite corner, but Nishioka has fought quality opposition and generally won convincingly. Wins over Mathebula and Vazquez Jr have been criticised, but Donaire did what he had to do, and at 122 they stack up against the likes of Gonzalez, Marquez and Munroe.
Assuming Nishioka hasn't aged dramatically, there's a case to say each man could be in with the best they've fought on Saturday night. Expect both to be cagey, almost cautious, early, but for Donaire to get the better of the exchanges, never quite doing enough to seriously hurt Nishioka, but taking control of the second half of the fight with a measured, decisive showing that may not satiate knockout fans but reminds us what all the fuss was about. Donaire UD-12
While I'm not totally sold yet on Donaire as a complete boxer, he's still one of the best in the world on pure talent and skills. Nishioka, on the other hand, I feel is on the downside. He's 36, which is ancient for a little guy, and he fought almost dead-even with an old Rafael Marquez in a good fight. I think he will have a couple moments, but he doesn't have the extra gear that Donaire has. I think Donaire's speed will be the deciding factor here, and will enable him to dictate the pace. Donaire by comfortable decision
Final Tally: Nonito Donaire 5, Toshiaki Nishioka 0.