Nonito Donaire Jr. has held nine world titles, ranging from flyweight to featherweight, making it seem as though Donaire has had two hall-of-fame careers in one career.
Donaire is known for his fast hand speed while combining that with serious power, earning him the nickname "The Filipino Flash."
Donaire has achieved several notable milestones in his career. At the age of 38, he became the oldest boxer in history to win a bantamweight world title by defeating Nordine Oubaali during a Showtime telecast, and now on July 15th, 2023, he will look to break his own record by fighting for a world title at 40-years-old. He is also the first three-time champion in the bantamweight division. Donaire has held world championships in three consecutive decades: the 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s. This accolade put him amongst the likes of Evander Holyfield, Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins, Erik Morales, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as one of the few boxers to accomplish this feat. One that should enshrine him into the hall-of-fame for that alone.
Throughout his career, Donaire has faced challenges and somewhat done things based on trial and error. He severed ties with his promoter, Gary Shaw, in 2008 and signed with Top Rank Boxing, only for his final act to be promoter agnostic for the most part. He has trained with notable coaches such as Robert Garcia as well as Mike Bazzel.
Donaire's career has been marked by memorable fights and achievements. From winning multiple world titles to earning accolades for his skills and sportsmanship, he has left an indelible mark on the world of boxing.
The biggest takeaway is longevity. Donaire has resurrected his career time and time again not unlike the pop star Madonna.
As Donaire preps to break yet another record set by himself, as he faces Alexandro Santiago on July 15th, from the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada, let's look back at the world title wins of Nonito Donaire.
Donaire won his first world title defeating Vic Darchinyan, one of the most feared flyweights of his time, Vic Darchinyan. Donaire moved down in weight to capture the IBF flyweight world title. The subsequent drama came from Darchinyan broke the jaw of Donaire’s brother, Glenn, in a world title fight in 2006.
Donaire knocked out Darchinyan, who was unresponsive for the full ten-count as a star was born.
Montiel was the WBO and WBC bantamweight world champion but entered the fight as a 2-to-1 underdog. What we saw was a repeat of the Darchinyan fight as Donaire landed an iconic knockout of Montiel. This fight was such a marquee performance that Donaire became a centerpiece of HBO Boxing programming after this knockout victory.
Wilfredo Vasquez Jr
Part of how Donaire had two hall-of-fame careers is that sometimes, even in winning a world title, he didn’t perform as he did at his apex. Some of Donaire’s seemingly costly habits of not training to the fullest extent and maximizing his ability were seen in this fight as the fight was for the WBO super bantamweight world title. Though far from the split decision the judges scored the bout, Donaire won but didn’t show his impressive speed and gifts from fights prior. The fight was the co-main event to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., versus Marco Antonio Rubio.
Taking place in Macao, China, at the Venetian Resort, the bout was awkward as an accidental headbutt opened up a cut on Nonito Donaire’s eye in round one. Donaire dropped Vetyeka in round four, but the bout was stopped in the fifth round due to the cut on Donaire’s eye. Donaire was ahead on the cards after five rounds and won the WBA featherweight title. This was a gift and curse as this would set up the worst loss of his career, a brutal KO to Nicholas Walters.
Back when Top Rank would air fights on Tru TV, a very fun fight series, the best of the bunch could’ve been a WBO super bantamweight fight between Donaire and Juarez. This was the best version of Juarez, and one of the most unmotivated versions of Donaire as Juarez would have far too much success late in the fight, but Donaire had built up such a lead that it didn’t matter.
Nonito Donaire revived his career with the World Boxing Super Series, as many looked at him as a former legend hanging on to the sport. That couldn’t have been further from the case as he won the WBA super bantamweight title from Burnett who sustained a knee injury in the fourth round and was unable to continue. Donaire would continue to turn back the clock until facing Naoya Inoue in the finals which was a fight of the year contender in 2019.
Donaire became the oldest bantamweight world champion when he stopped Oubaali on a Showtime telecast. Now, next Saturday, Donaire looks to see if he can break his own record fighting for a world title at 40-years-old.