This was the first fight I had wanted to write about in a long time on this blog. A rare superfight in the 118 pound weight class, determining the de facto number 1 (although the Showtime matchup of Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares will have his own claim). With HBO rarely giving major face time to the teeny tiny fighters – and Montiel coming off of a courageous unification victory in Japan – this had much of the makings of a fight of the year.
However, the first warning signs were seen early on in the typical “feeling out” first round. Donaire was coming up from 115 lbs to make this fight, but he looked so much bigger than Montiel. It felt like there was a large weight difference entering the ring. One harkens back to the feaurette HBO showed earlier where Donaire was seen with Victor Conte, the former BALCO svengali. I have to assume Donaire and Conte are working legitimately together -Donaire can’t be that stupid – and indeed the effects of performance drugs in boxing (or weight gain generally) is pretty inconclusive. In any case, Donaire just looked bigger, and when he landed it seemed like it “mattered”.
It took a while for Montiel, after losing the first round to Donaire, to start feeling normal. In the second round, he started to box well, sticking and moving and hitting a couple of combinations. While it was hard to envision a Montiel stop, Montiel seemed to stop the bleeding. But then … THAT happened. Montiel getting close to Donaire threw a quick flurry that Donaire countered with a crushing left check hook and the other man fell in a heap. Barely six minutes in, and Montiel was effectively out. Sure he got up, and the ref respected the champ to give him a shot to continue, but the stoppage game soon thereafter.
The fight did not live up to the hype – but it was still a hell of an entertainment … to see a star born on TV, while delivering THE decisive result, nothing wrong with that. Nonito Donaire’s place at the pound-for-pound table is secure.