[PHOTO- Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. is hard at work with a trainer in preparation for his July 8 battle against International Boxing Federation champion Jeffrey Mathebula in a unification title fight at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, USA. Chris Farina, Top Rank Boxing]

MANILA, JULY 12, 2012 (STANDARD) By Ronnie Nathanielsz - As the incredible career of pound for pound king, “Fighter of the Decade” and eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao winds down, millions of Filipinos and fight fans around the world continue to wonder as to who will become “another” Manny Pacquiao.

There are those who mention the name of Nonito “The Filipino Flash” as heir-apparent to the top spot among Filipino world champions but Donaire himself has said time and again that there is only one Manny Pacquiao and that he wishes to carve his own name in the fiercely competitive sport.

Donaire is a four-division world champion but his ambition is to win titles in six weight divisions, hopefully winding up as the junior lightweight champion of the world which was the pinnacle of success reached by his longtime idol, Gabriel “Flash” Elorde.

Donaire first burst onto the scene when he effectively shut the mouth of cocky Australian IBF/IBO flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan with a spectacular 5th round knockout on July 7, 2007.

All it took was one, perfectly timed left hook to drop Darchinyan who tried to get up, rolled around the ring like a drunken sailor before crashing into the ropes near his corner.

The smashing knockout earned for Donaire the coveted award as “Knockout of the Year” aside from being named the “Upset of the Year” which provides an insight into what kind of an underdog he was in the fight against Darchinyan.

After dutifully battering Mexican challenger Luis Maldonado to score an 8th round TKO on December 1, 2007 Donaire fell upon some rough times as he and his promoter at that time, Gary Shaw, had an apparent falling out and it took eleven months before Nonito entered the ring to defend his IBF/IBO titles against little South African Moruti Mthalane on November 1, 2008.

It wasn’t the most convincing victory by Donaire although he broke Mthalane’s nose, cut him on his eye and generally bloodied his face, forcing referee Joe Cortez to call a halt in the 6th round.

The split with Shaw was consummated and Donaire linked up with perhaps the most astute promoter in the business of boxing today, Bob Arum of Top Rank.

Arum in partnership with Solar Sports organized a championship double-header at the Araneta Coliseum where Brian Viloria stunned the world with an amazing 11th round knockout of IBF light flyweight champion Ulises Solis while Donaire put on a clinic, dropping previously undefeated Raul Martinez of Texas four times en route to a 4th round TKO victory on April 19, 2009.

Donaire decided it was time to begin his chase for more world titles and took on Panama’s Rafael Concepcion who had earlier won the WBA super flyweight interim title with a 10th round knockout of AJ “Bazooka” Banal in Cebu.

After making short work of late substitute and clearly overmatched Manuel “Chango” Vargas at the Las Vegas Hilton on February 13, 2010, winning by a 3rd round TKO, Donaire saved the day for the Philippines in Puerto Rico on July 10, 2010 when he became the only Filipino fighter to win while three others, including two-division world champion Gerry Peñalosa were beaten rather badly.

Donaire cemented his hold on the WBA super flyweight title with a comfortable 8th round TKO of Hernan “Tyson” Marquez.

Donaire had always wanted the big names and the big fights. One of the champions he long wanted to battle was veteran Mexican Fernando “Cochulito” Montiel. The long awaited showdown with Montiel took place on February 19, 2011.

In a devastating performance that duplicated in many ways Manny Pacquiao’s second round demolition of Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton whom he separated from his senses in the second round, Donaire annihilated Montiel also in two rounds.

Nonito had cloaked himself with glory by winning the WBC/WBO bantamweight belts and once again being recognized as the fighter responsible for the “Knockout of the Year.”

With three titles in his trophy room Donaire who was having problems making the 118 pound limit decided to move up to the super bantamweight limit to confront former champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.

He dropped Vazquez in the 9th round and handily beat him except in the eyes of one of the judges, Dr. Ruben Garcia, who inexplicably had Vazquez the winner 115-112, receiving a round of boos when his scorecard was read and upsetting WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel with his incompetence if nothing else.

On Sunday, July 8 Manila Time, Donaire will take another path to glory by facing IBF champion Jeffrey Mathebula in a unification title fight at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California where the large Filipino community is expected to show up in support of Donaire.

It will be a different kind of test for Donaire as Mathebula is some 3-4 inches taller with a longer reach and has said he plans to use these advantages to the hilt. Donaire is unfazed as trainer Robert Garcia welcomes the opportunity telling us, “Nonito likes to fighter taller guys. He is strong and in great shape.”

Arum was full of enthusiasm in the lead-up to the fight after watching Donaire train. He told the Manila Standard, “He’s not just good. Nonito is sensational. He is terrific.”

Pacquiao’s heir-apparent is taking giant steps on his own road to greatness.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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