Nonito Donaire continues his legendary career Saturday night on Showtime, facing Reymart Gaballo, with Donaire’s WBC bantamweight title on the line.
Donaire (41-6, 27 KO) has good run since returning to bantamweight, going 3-1 with his only loss a Fight of the Year effort in 2019 against Naoya Inoue, who is much younger and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
Gaballo (24-0, 20 KO) has a magnificent opportunity here, not only to win a world title, but to beat a true Hall of Famer and possibly send him into retirement.
Does Donaire keep his dreams of undisputed at 118 lbs in play, or will Gaballo step up and become a star?
Scott Christ (60-22)
One of two things — if not both — needs to happen for Reymart Gaballo to win this fight:
- Gaballo has to be notably better than the fighter we saw a year ago against Emmanuel Rodriguez, a fight that Gaballo absolutely should not have won but did on two of three scorecards.
- Donaire has to hit the wall.
As a 39-year-old bantamweight, Donaire’s chances of doing the second thing are there every fight now. Any training camp might not fully click, any weight cut on the final week could be the one that gets the best of him, any fight night it just might not be there. But I’ve yet to see a version of Donaire I wouldn’t pick to beat the Gaballo we saw in his last fight. I think Nonito gets him with the hook at some point and even if it’s not an immediate stoppage there, it’ll be the damage done. Donaire TKO-6
Wil Esco (66-16)
As far as I’m concerned Nonito Donaire is like a national treasure in boxing. I really don’t know how anyone can’t love and root for the man. Donaire has been around the sport for a while, rose up pound-for-pound rankings, faced adversity and was knocked off, but has once again managed to scratch and claw his way back to world title status. Donaire’s only loss in the last three years came in a 2019 Fight of the Year against the uber talented Naoya Inoue, and even after that gut-wrenching loss he still managed to bounce back to stop Nordine Oubaali this past May.
Physically, at age 39, Donaire is well past his best days, but his know-how and commitment to his craft and his mental approach to the game has allowed him to continue to be a real force at bantamweight. Nothing against Raymart Gaballo here, who I’m sure will be coming to fight, but here he’ll be facing a level of talent he’s not accustomed to, a fighter who has much more experience at this level, and still maintains a nasty left hook that can end a fight at any moment. War Donaire! Donaire TKO-8
Patrick L. Stumberg (67-15)
Gaballo is a perfectly functional fighter with a solid 1-2 and decent pop. That’s about the long and short of it, though; it shouldn’t have been enough to get him past Emmanuel Rodriguez and it isn’t anywhere near enough to overcome even an aged Donaire. “The Filipino Flash” is the sharper, more destructive puncher at 118 and has the timing to land flush on Gaballo’s chin anytime the latter elects to press the action.
The bigger question for me is how long Gaballo lasts. He’s young and has never been down, but he also has a bad habit of leaving his right hand below his chin, and we’ve seen very, very few bantamweights who can withstand that legendary left hook. Donaire knocks his block off before the midpoint. Donaire KO-5