It didn't take long for Nonito Donaire to cement his long-questioned pound-for-pound status tonight, as the Filipino star knocked out Fernando Montiel in the second round to pick up two alphabet titles in the bantamweight division.
Donaire (26-1, 18 KO) flattened Montiel (44-3-2, 34 KO) in the second round with a monstrous left hook. Montiel somehow made it to his feet and the referee allowed him to continue, which was a bad decision, and after two more punches, the referee stepped in, seemingly knowing it was not a good decision to let Montiel continue.
The win was an emphatic statement about the scary talent that Donaire possesses, as Montiel looked like he was stuck in concrete in the opening round, with Donaire landing a few good shots along the way. The all-but-a-knockout blow in the second was similar to Donaire's knockout of Vic Darchinyan. The speed with which Donaire lands that powerful blow is otherworldly.
For a long time, many of us questioned Donaire's standing as a top P4P fighter by The Ring and other outlets. It wasn't his talent that was questioned, but whether or not his resume backed the standing. There's no more of that now. He looks phenomenal whenever he faces his best opponents, and there can be no more question of whether or not he's as good as the hype. That's my opinion, anyway. Any questions remaining were answered tonight.
It's the first stoppage loss of Montiel's career, and puts him back at the drawing board a bit. His team had said before this that his next fight would be at 122 pounds, so you can probably expect him to move up a division. He's 31 years old and listed at 5'4", so whatever future he has left is probably limited, but 122 is fairly barren these days and he could make some noise there. He still has world class power and good ability, but his career peaked with the win over Hozumi Hasegawa last year, which was a pretty big upset, and it was a peak that wasn't destined to last long. As we've said before, Montiel was such a big underdog against Hasegawa because he'd been looking a little rough in recent fights. There's still time for him, but the window closed a little more with this devastating loss.
As for what Donaire will do next, they're being very aggressive about moving up in weight, but he said he'd like to unify at 118. He's got two of the belts already (I won't be surprised if one is stripped or he's all but forced to give it up shortly, because that's how sanctioning bodies work), and a fight with the winner of the April 23 fight between Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares would be a tremendous next opponent, but we'll have to wait and see. If it's Mares, you can probably forget about it given the current feelings between Top Rank and Golden Boy.
In the TV co-feature, Mike Jones improved to 24-0 (18 KO) with a decision win over Jesus Soto Karass (24-6-3, 16 KO). The story of the fight was really more Soto Karass' unending determination and toughness, as he fought through two bloodied eyes for most of the bout and kept coming. He was battered to the body by Jones, who fought smarter than he did in their November meeting, which wasn't all that hard considering how dumb he fought the first time. It's a good win for Jones, but I still thought he showed some flaws, and there's something about him that keeps me from getting too excited about his prospects.