By Benjy Swan: Nonito Donaire (32-2, 21 KO’s) finds himself in a make or break fight tonight against WBA Super World featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16 KO’s) at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, Macao S.A.R., China. Donaire’s fall from the top of boxing has been dramatic and sudden with him losing to Guillermo Rigondeaux last year, and then going through pure hell in beating the past his prime Vic Darchyinyan last November.
Donaire believes he can return to the to the level he was at before, but there are many boxing insiders who feel that Donaire is on the downward side of his career and possibly no longer capable of winning a world title, in particular now that he’s fighting at featherweight.
A year ago, before his loss to Rigondeaux, Donaire was being celebrated as the second coming of Manny Pacquiao, and someone who had the potential of becoming a big pay-per-view attraction in the future once he moved up several divisions. But things changed for Donaire with him getting beaten by Rigondeaux and then choosing not to want to fight him again. It was bad that Donaire lost the fight to the Cuban after reluctantly giving him a fight, but then choosing not to fight Rigondeaux again was seen as a confession by many boxing fans that Donaire didn’t have the talent to beat him. Oddly enough, HBO isn’t showing Rigondeaux’s fights now, and yet they’ll be televising Donaire’s fight against Vetyeka tonight. It’s pretty sad that the loser of the fight is rewarded and the winner ignored.
Tonight’s fight is very important for Donaire, as a loss to Vetyeka could signal the end for Donaire. To be sure, he can and probably will continue his boxing career, but the only way he’ll be able to find success after this is if his promoter Bob Arum goes back to carefully matching him like he was before by putting him in with old names like Jorge Arce. Donaire can beat the average fighters and the old lions, but beating the champions is another matter altogether different.
If Donaire is able to beat Vetyeka, he’ll have a new lease on life for a moment, but the tests won’t end there for Donaire, because Arum will likely match him up against WBA champion Nicholas Walters or Evgeny Gradovich in his next fight, and both of those guys will be plenty tough for Donaire.