There wasn’t really anything wrong with the super bantamweight showdown at Los Angeles’ Home Depot Center on Oct. 13 between WBO and IBF champion Nonito Donaire of the Philippines and WBC champion Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan, other than the fact that it followed the all-out slugfest between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado on the undercard. Any fight would have been considered dull after the Rios-Alvarado tilt, and unfortunately this super bantamweight fight didn’t quite live up to its potential either.
Donaire attempted to make a fight of it in the early going, but Nishioka, who hadn’t been beaten in over eight years, took the cautious approach for the first five rounds and didn’t want to engage in any action with him.
Nishioka preferred defense over offense until he was dropped in the sixth round. Up until then, Donaire was scoring with good rights to the head while the Japanese southpaw landed the occasional stiff jab.
Nishioka decided to let his hands go a little more in the sixth round, but he was sent to the canvas buy a short, hard left uppercut to the head by Donaire. Nishioka looked more embarrassed than hurt, and he easily beat the count.
When he got back to his fight he figured the best form of defense might now be his offense and he proceeded to slug it out with Donaire until the end of the round while the crowd roared its approval. Nishioka landed some solid shots in the wild exchange, but was still cautious when the seventh round began.
The fight basically followed the same pattern in the seventh and eighth rounds, but Nishioka was a little more aggressive and started to come forward, landing some nice left hands. He had Donaire up against the ropes in the ninth and was in the process of throwing a right hand to Donaire’s head when the Filipino Flash beat him to the punch and landed his own right square on Nishioka’s wide open face. Nishioka went down instantly and rose before the count reached 10.
It was hard to tell how hurt he was because the 29-year-old Donaire threw another solid shot as soon as the fight resumed and Nishioka’s corner men then threw in the towel and Raul Caiz Sr., the referee, halted the contest.
The 36-year-old might have been able to continue, but would have needed a knockout to win since he was trailing on all three scorecards by scores of 80-71, 79-72, and 79-72. The official time of the stoppage was 1:54 of the ninth round.
Donaire said he knew Nishioka was a solid opponent, but felt he had the better hand speed. After the bout Nishioka agreed and said Donaire’s speed was simply too much to handle and that’ he’s never faced anybody in the ring with that type of speed before. The punch stat numbers showed that Donaire threw 485 punches while Nishioka managed to get off just 199.
Donaire said he hurt his left hand in the fight, but promoter Bob Arum said he might fight against before the year’s out against Jorge Arce in Mexico City if his hand is okay. As for Nishioka, he’ll likely retire after a successful career. If the bout had been made when he was in his prime it likely would have produced a lot more action.