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Boxing Throwback Thursday: The knockout win that shot Nonito Donaire to stardom

A look back at the 2007 Ring Magazine 'Knockout of the Year' fight that gave Nonito Donaire his ticket to stardom

Ten years ago, one of the most notable upset victories in the history of Philippines boxing took place. It came just at the right time, a time when the Southeast Asia boxing-crazy nation didn’t have any reigning world champions.

At that time, compared to the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Gerry Peñalosa, Z Gorres and Rey Bautista, Donaire was unknown to average Filipino boxing fans as he moved to the US when he was a kid. He fought there as an amateur as well as being where most of his first professional fights were held. Donaire faced a fighter who already had legitimate fame and the world’s attention – Vic Darchinyan.

Darchinyan, an Armenian who was based in Australia had been ruling the flyweight division with his wild bull-strong knockout punches. At that time, he seemed unbeatable with his unique style. He may look strange, but his unconventional fight tactics had been sending opponents into the canvas as he stayed unbeaten (28-0) until he fought Donaire. Darchinyan’s IBO and IBF flyweight titles were at stake in this historic bout.

The Bout – July 7, 2007

Donaire started the fight strong using his hand speed and footwork to his advantage. He cautiously watched for Darchinyan’s lethal left straight while being the busier and more aggressive fighter. Darchinyan, a typically slow starter, seemed to be unfazed by Donaire’s effective use of the jab.

In the second round, Darchinyan started to give Donaire a taste of his power. It was a give-and-take situation for the two as they traded power punches. Donaire was caught by a strong left straight but countered with a left hook. Both fighters had never been knocked out and showed their ability to stand against strong punches.

A good left hook from Donaire changed the flow of the fight in the third round as Darchinyan hadn’t faced a fighter who fights back after having a feel of his power. Darchinyan came back strong in the fourth round and became the aggressor while Donaire relaxed a bit but continued to connect with counterpunches.

In the fifth round, Darchinyan charged and tried to pull the trigger with a left but Donaire saw the opening and connected first with a vicious left hook to send Darchinyan into the canvas. He tried to recover, but the referee called the fight to save him from further punishments as Darchinyan’s eyes looked glassy and his legs were no longer there. His corner also ran into the ring to rescue him.


More than just a win

Donaire was the first one to drop Darchinyan. While he was declared as the new IBF and IBO flyweight champion, he turned heads from the other side of the globe. Filipino fans started to recognize him and give a much-needed boost to his career.

Donaire ended a long world-title drought for the Philippines along with fellow Filipino Florante Condes, who travelled to Indonesia to score an upset against the champion Muhammad Rachman via split decision to bag the IBF minimumweight title. It was also a perfect revenge as his older brother Glenn was previously beaten by Darchinyan.

The victory also propelled Donaire’s journey to get onto bigger fight cards. He eventually won titles in four more weight divisions.

His current career status

After almost a year of absence, Donaire announced his ring return under a new promoter, Ringstar Sports. The 34-year-old Donaire stated that he is planning to campaign in the 126-pound division where he once reigned as a WBA featherweight champion. He expressed his willingness to fight the likes of Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz, Lee Selby and Carl Frampton.

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Niko Quirapas

Niko Quirapas is a nurse by profession. He's a self-taught sports writer from the Philippines who specializes in boxing and basketball.

Boxing Throwback Thursday: The knockout win that shot Nonito Donaire to stardom

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