Can Nonito Donaire win his ninth world title against current champion Nordine Oubaalli, or will this be the final fight of his career?
Nonito Donaire has earned the right to be called a legend in the sport of boxing. He’s a four-division champion who has won eight world titles throughout his 20-year professional career, but could his fight against Nordine Oubaali mark the end of Donaire’s time in the ring?
Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) has done the opposite of most aging veteran boxers. Instead of moving up in weight, he has actually moved down. He fought as heavy as featherweight but returned to bantamweight over the last several years in a move to extend his career.
Donaire lacked the size and power to contend as a featherweight in the twilight of his career. He gives up speed and quickness to smaller bantamweights, but his punching power is intact and continues to make him a player in the bantamweight title landscape.
Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) is the reigning WBC bantamweight champion. He sports an undefeated record and won the title back in 2019 against Rau’shee Warren. The southpaw from France has a strong amateur background, but he’s far behind Donaire in terms of professional experience.
Donaire lost a thrilling contest in his last outing against Naoya Inoue in 2019. Donaire hurt Inoue in the early going, but Inoue started to punish the 38-year-old Donaire in the later rounds on his way to a unanimous decision victory.
Oubaali is still forging his reputation as a championship boxer, but he’s a good matchup for Donaire on paper. At 5-foot-7, Donaire has a 4-inch height advantage over Oubaali and is only giving up four years in age to the 34-year-old Oubaali.
Donaire believes he has the ability to win his ninth world title.
Nonito Donaire hopes that he has several more years left in boxing, but Nordine Oubaali will put him to the test
“It would be great to win the title at 38 years old and become the oldest champion at 118 pounds, but let’s keep it going,” said Donaire at the final pre-fight press conference. “Let’s make it 40. Let’s make it 42. There ain’t no stopping me. Mentally, I’m very grateful, but at the same time, I’m just very ready.”
Donaire insisted to FanSided that clean living and a healthy diet have helped to preserve his fitness as he gets older.
“The wisdom is definitely a big part of me fighting now, but the biggest part is being healthy,” Donaire told FanSided during a press conference. “I could be 40 and still be fighting with anybody else at a young age. It’s just my healthy lifestyle. There’s no other thing about it. It’s just I’m very healthy. I eat the right food. I get the right rest. I’m mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy. That’s the biggest thing to me.”
Donaire is still a massive boxing draw because of his past success and his action style of fighting. He’s one of the biggest stars in his home country of the Philippines and beyond.
A win against Oubaali could jumpstart another trip to the top for Donaire. Inoue is the face of the division, but Donaire was competitive against him in their 2019 fight. Defeating Oubaali could make a case for a rematch for Donaire.
A loss against Oubaali would likely signal the end of Donaire’s time as a serious contender and possibly the end of his career. He could still land significant fights, but his chances of winning another title would be very low.
Donaire always gives it his best in the ring. He doesn’t shy away from contact and is willing to go out on his shield. Either way, Oubaali is in for a long night, and he may well leave Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California without his title.
Just when you start to think that Donaire’s time as a boxer is coming to an end, he has a way of pulling out another impressive performance. There’s a good chance that he can rise to the occasion once more against Oubaali.
Watch Nordine Oubaali vs. Nonito Donaire on Saturday, May 29, on Showtime. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET.