Nonito Donaire seems to have known all along that he wasn’t likely to sail through the 126-pound division the way he sailed through 112 and 122, with successful stops at 115 and 118.
For a guy who admittedly took a beating Saturday in a sixth-round knockout administered by the notably larger Nicholas Walters, Donaire seemed remarkably clear-headed about it all by the next day. He seemed to have a positive spin at the ready about his lack of stature in the featherweight division.
“Beautiful Sunday morning!” he began on Facebook. “Sitting here with my team just feeling blessed. Thank u for all the well wishes but God is good. I went down swinging and not running and I wouldn’t have any other way. I have fought the best and never ducked anyone and in doing so sometimes the outcome is not what I want.
“God saved me last night. I would have died by the sword last night. I would have kept getting up and if I stayed in that fight til the 12th I could have gotten brain damage. Walters was just too big for me. If I got past Walters I would have fought with (Orlando) Salido at 130lbs and really gotten hurt.
“I’m going to take some time off and rebuild myself all over again. I’ll come back stronger and probably at a lower weight.
“Thank you for all your support and belief in me.
This is not a flip-flop. Three years ago, Donaire said there’s no way he could ever stand up to his pal Brandon Rios, then a 135-pounder, and he said other things about the logic of weight classes that will guide him through his return to 122.
“I would like to fight the best guys out there,” Donaire told Dennis “d’Source” Guillermo at the time, “but I’m at 122 right now. I don’t want to skip to a division where I know I’m small. And I’m still small at 122.”
Never forget that Benny “Kid”:Paret’s fatal; loss to welterweight Emile Griffith in 1962 was preceded by a brutal loss to middleweight Gene Fullmer in late 1961. Fighting larger people is dangerous.
It’s hard enough to hang with people in your own weight class, as Donaire will learn if he gains a rematch with the best 122-pounder, Guillermo Rigondeaux, against whom Donaire might have fared a lot better in their 2013 meeting had he fought in the aggressive manner he fought Walters.
The valiant performance against Walters will make Donaire bankable at 122 against top opponents. The Rigondeaux rematch should be easy for Top Rank to assemble, although there are hurdles to Donaire’s facing others at that weight, including Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares.
If he can’t beat those guys anymore, then he should retire. But he can’t quit now, while he says he still enjoys boxing and he still can earn another million or two.
Colin Seymour is the author of “The Kingpin Trio/How Three Bay Area Champions Became the Class of Boxing,” a book about Donaire, Andre Ward and Robert Guerrero, which you can download free. Here’s the link: