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Nonito Donaire vs Reymart Gaballo: Preview, odds, undercard, how to watch the fight

Nonito Donaire’s legendary career continues on Saturday. Is Reymart Gaballo a viable spoiler?

Nonito Donaire returns, can Reymart Gaballo upset the legend?
Nonito Donaire returns, can Reymart Gaballo upset the legend?
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images and Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Matchup: Nonito Donaire vs Reymart Gaballo

I said in the schedule post for this week that Nonito Donaire is someone whose career we should all feel blessed to have witnessed, a special fighter in and out of the ring, someone who has been a real leader in the sport over the years. For me, it seems both forever ago and like just last week that he blasted Vic Darchinyan as an underdog in a Showtime main event in 2007, winning his first world title at flyweight and coming onto the scene in a big way.

Since then, Donaire has won belts at 118, 122, and 126, and then made the move back down to 122 and then 118. He also had an interim belt at 115. He’s never been flawless — he lost clearly to Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2013, was too small at 126 to handle Nicholas Walters, lost to Jessie Magdaleno at 122 in 2016 and Carl Frampton at 126 in 2018. But he’s never let the losses truly defeat him. When he made the call to drop back down to bantamweight for the World Boxing Super Series after the Frampton bout, a lot of us thought it was an old fighter taking one last desperate swing to stay in the game.

Donaire reached the tournament final in somewhat fluky fashion, but then instead of being obliterated by younger, faster Naoya Inoue in the final, he delivered an instant classic in the 2019 Fight of the Year. Inoue win and deserved to, but it was a reminder of how great Donaire can be — and still is, because after that he wiped out Nordine Oubaali to win the WBC bantamweight title at age 38.

Now 39, Donaire (41-6, 27 KO) continues his Hall of Fame-bound career against 25-year-old countryman Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20 KO), who is best and to most only known for a terrible robbery win over Emmanuel Rodriguez about a year ago on Showtime.

Gaballo will be the underdog here and should be. Donaire is an older fighter, though, so you can’t discount the chance that maybe this will have been the training camp or the weight cut or the night of the fight itself where things just don’t come together, where it’s flat and there isn’t much there. Think of Miguel Cotto against Sadam Ali for a recent example. That didn’t make Sadam Ali a great fighter; it did make Ali the guy who sent the Hall of Famer into retirement.

Undercard

Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (18-0, 10 KO) will face Cody Crowley (19-0, 9 KO) in a pivotal matchup for the two welterweights. Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov, 28, has been sort of accepted as a back-end top 10 sort of guy in the division, a bit old and advanced to be called a “prospect” and lacking the sort of wins that make him a bona fide “contender,” though he’s more contender than prospect. Crowley, a fellow 28-year-old from Canada, has mainly fought in his home country, and this is a chance for him to break through and be called a contender himself.

Brandun Lee is a genuinely exciting prospect, a 22-year-old junior welterweight who has lit up screens on ShoBox and is advancing to Showtime Championship Boxing, getting his chance to impress further. Lee (23-0, 21 KO) is fast and powerful, but will have a solid step-up bout against Juan Heraldez (16-1-1, 10 KO), a 31-year-old veteran who has a draw with Argenis Mendez and a loss to Regis Prograis in his last two. On paper, Lee should win this, but it’s good matchmaking to see just how far along he is. Prograis overpowered Heraldez inside of three rounds, expect Lee to try and do something similar.

Odds

DraftKings Sportsbook currently have Donaire at -380 to Gaballo’s +290, which might be tighter odds than most expect, but Donaire, great as he is, is an older fighter, and there may be money coming in on the younger Gaballo.

Kudratillo Abdukakhorov is at -525 against Cody Crowley, who sits at +390 right now.

How to Watch

Donaire vs Gaballo will air on Showtime starting at 10 pm ET on Saturday, December 11. Bad Left Hook will be here with live coverage and round by round updates.