Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton (24-1, 14KOs) takes on Philippine hero Nonito Donaire (38-4, 24KOs) for the Interim WBO featherweight title at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
This will be Frampton’s second appearance in Belfast since his split with Shane and Barry McGuigan. In his last fight he took on a huge featherweight in Haracia Garcia and won by unanimous decision after going down in the seventh. It was the first time we got to see the relationship between Frampton and new coach Jamie Moore but this fight with Donaire will be a real test for both.
Former world champion in 4-weight classes Nonito Donaire may well be on the decline but Frampton will still need to be at his best if he is to claim victory.
At 35-years of age the Filipino-American will be keen to prove his doubters wrong and make one last assault on championship glory. A victory here would be enough to guarantee one last title shot which makes the ‘Filipino Fish’ a very dangerous customer.
The Jackal is currently ranked as the best in Britain and No.2 in the world in a staked featherweight division. After competing in 25 fights the Irishman has fought 162 rounds with a 56% knockout ratio and has an excellent combined opponent record of 471-79-18.
The former unified super-bantamweight champion was guided well during his time with Cyclone Promotions. After fighting decent opposition since his debut in 2009 he finally picked up the IBF super-bantamweight title in a rematch against Kiko Martinez.
Frampton defended his world title three times becoming the first man to stop Chris Avalos and recovered from being put down twice in a unanimous decision victory against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr in Texas. Then in a massive British unification fight with Scott Quigg the Irishman won by majority decision in a drab encounter that failed to get going until the middle rounds.
The 31-year-old then decided it was time to move up to the featherweight division and was given the chance to face undefeated Mexican and current world No.1 Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA title. In my 2016 fight of the year Frampton kept his undefeated record intact with a majority decision victory which could have gone either way. Many felt that Santa Cruz should have got the nod but personally I feel the right man won on the night. Santa Cruz was able to seek immediate revenge in a rematch with a comprehensive victory in 2017.
Nonito Donaire is considered to be the second best fighter to have come out of the Philippines only behind Manny Pacquiao. It is hard to put into words the admiration that the Philippine people feel towards their hero. Currently ranked at No.10 in the world and No.1 in his native country the four-weight former world champion has fought 255 rounds in 42 fights with a 57% knockout ratio and an impressive combined opponent record of 834-179-36.
After turning professional in 2001 Donaire picked up his first world titles at flyweight when he stopped Vic Darchinyan in the fifth round. A few defences later and Donaire opted to move into the super-flyweight division where he managed to collect a WBA interim title.
It wasn’t long before Donaire moved up to the 118lb division and went on to become the WBO and WBC unified world bantamweight champion when he stopped Fernando Montiel in the second round.
The ‘Filipino Fish’ then jumped into the 122lb division and picked up the WBO world super-bantamweight title against Wilfredo Vazquez. He then retained his belt and captured the IBF version when he outpointed Jeffery Mathebula.
A three round destruction of the Mexican legend Jorge Arce followed before Donaire defeated Japans Toshiaki Nishioka to become The Ring and Lineal super-bantamweight champion. The 12-year win streak came to an end at the hands of Guillermo Rigondeaux.
A short stint into the featherweight division see Donaire pick up the WBA super title before Jamaican Nicholas Walters became the first and only man to ever stop him in the sixth.
Nonito Donaire dropped back down to what I believe is his best weight in the super-bantamweight division and quickly picked up the vacant WBO title against Cesar Juarez. A year later and Jessie Magdaleno outpointed Donaire for his fourth professional loss.
After 17-years in the game Donaire has moved back into the 126lb division with the hope of pulling off a shock on Saturday night when he makes his first ever appearance on British soil.
Both fighters stand at 5’5” but Donaire has a 6 inch reach advantage. They each have the ability to box and scrap which makes this a fascinating encounter.
There will be a size difference that favours the Irishman but he will need to be mindful of Donaire’s trademark left hook. I’m not convinced that Donaire possesses the same amount of power in the 126lb division so it would be a shock if Frampton did get stopped.
I am expecting the early exchanges to be close but I believe youth will prevail over experience and Frampton will take full control in the second half of the fight. Donaire won’t throw punches in bunches but he will pick his shots carefully and meaningfully. There could well be a round or two where they both throw caution to the wind and this is where the fight could go either way.
I am picking Carl Frampton to outpoint Nonito Donaire in a slick and skillful fight that has the potential to be a barnstormer. The legendary Filipino will be in buoyant mood with his wife in the corner and should not be overlooked but I think he’s taking on a tough opponent in the wrong division.
Good luck to both fighters!