by Mark Lorenzana
Styles make fights. Every fight fan worth his or her salt has surely heard this old boxing cliche lots of times, and for good reason—the outcome of a bout usually depends on the fighting styles dished out by the fighters atop the squared ring.
In past years, different (and similar) fighting styles have given us the following: the dramatic carnage of the Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward trilogy; the fascinatingly violent ebb and flow of Rafael Marquez and Israel Vasquez’s four fights; the one-sided but legendary bout between Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns; the amazing comeback by the late Diego Corrales against Jose Luis Castillo in their first fight; and the shocking upset that was the Rumble in the Jungle, where an older Muhammad Ali’s speed, technical skills, and superb ring IQ proved too much to handle for a younger and supposedly stronger George Foreman.
Of course, these differences and similarities in fighting styles don’t always result in exciting and unforgettable fights, those fights that get nominated for Fight of the Year by The Ring magazine. More often than not, they result in forgettable snooze-fests like Manny Pacquiao-Joshua “the Turtle” Clottey, the second Pacquiao-Marco Antonio Barrera fight (where Barrera changed his style to that of a marathoner), Devon Alexander-Timothy Bradley, Floyd Mayweather-Carlos Baldomir, the last twelve Bernard Hopkins fights, and the recent Nonito Donaire-Omar Narvaez fight.
Speaking of the latter, on to the bullets:
- A lot of people I know are still furious about the outcome of the Donaire-Narvaez fight. Why? Because those guys wagered beer money that Narvaez wouldn’t last the distance against Donaire, and, well, we all know what happened: Narvaez refused to fight and was more concerned about lasting the distance against Nonito. Can’t blame the guy, though. Donaire has knocked out eight of his last ten opponents, and Narvaez can at least brag that he finished the fight on his feet. Problem is, he didn’t even win a round on the judges’ scorecards; all the judges scored the fight 120–108 for Donaire. “Neither of us wanted to make a mistake because in this kind of fight, it can be fatal. You cannot neglect an opponent like Nonito at any time,” Narvaez said after the fight. While I agree with Narvaez when he said that making a mistake in boxing is fatal, I disagree with his statement that neither of he nor Donaire wanted to make a mistake. Donaire did his job by actually fighting, which means Nonito actually took risks. Narvaez, on the other hand, plastered his gloves to his mug all night and hopped on his bicycle instead of going toe-to-toe with Donaire. While I was a bit disappointed with the fight (I began channel surfing at the start of the sixth round), a win is a win for Donaire, and he can at least look forward to more exciting and lucrative fights in the future.
- A quick glance at the CompuBox numbers of the fight will show just how outgunned Narvaez was: Donaire threw a total of 666 punches, landing 99. Eighty-five of those punches that landed for Donaire were power shots.In contrast, Narvaez only threw a total of 299 punches, landing 41, 33 of which were power punches. When I said at the beginning of this post that styles make fights, I meant the natural fighting style of a boxer—without the fear factor thrown in. Consider this: the average super flyweight throws around fifty-seven punches a round, and when Narvaez was still campaigning at 115, four of the five CompuBox-tracked fights that Narvaez figured in showed that the Argentinian boxer exceeded the super flyweight average of punches per round: he threw 68.7 punches in a win against Everth Briceno, 83.7 against Victor Zaleta, 70.3 against William Urina, and a staggering 126.2 against Santiago Acosta. Narvaez fought those four aforementioned fights in the past year, so that was a thirty-five-year-old boxer throwing a hellacious amount of punches per round, way above the so-called average of a fighter in his weight class.
- Obviously, Narvaez became gun-shy against Donaire because he felt that the Filipino was more than capable of knocking him out. That’s why he overcompensated on his defense, his offense (and any chance of winning) be damned. Narvaez added: “I think I have the doors open to fight again in America, but next time it’ll be in the super flyweight category.” Really? With that kind of showing in his debut fight in the United States? I don’t think so. Narvaez should remember that Joshua Clottey put on a similar performance against Manny Pacquiao, and although Clottey finished the fight on his feet, he was immediately dropped by HBO for his lackluster performance. Said a visibly disgusted Freddie Roach after the fight, “He [Clottey] was satisfied with going the distance with Manny Pacquiao, and he did. But HBO will never use him again.” Narvaez seemed to be satisfied with going the distance against Donaire, but it remains to be seen whether he will be fighting on US soil again.
- So what’s next for Nonito Donaire? Apparently, Top Rank’s Bob Arum has his sights on a couple of options for Donaire: WBO super bantamweight champion Jorge Arce and WBC super bantamweight titlist Toshiaki Nishioka. El Travieso is fresh off a successful defense of his title after stopping South African Simphiwe Nongqayi in four rounds last month. Arce picked up his belt in emphatic fashion after beating Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight last May. On the other hand, Nishioka successfully defended his title against future hall of famer Rafael Marquez early this month.Again, styles make fights: after his disappointing fight against Narvaez, I’m looking forward to Donaire fighting Arce first. Arce is never in a boring fight, and with his all-action style against Donaire, expect fireworks. I’m not saying that a Donaire-Nishioka fight will be boring, but because Nishioka is more of a stylistic boxer compared to Arce, who is more of a brawler, a Donaire and Nishioka fight will be more of a chess match. And heck, we want our boxing.Against Arce, Nonito Donaire will be his old explosive self again. I hope Bob Arum can make it happen soon. After Narvaez, he owes us that fight. Badly.