Nonito Donaire went from being seen as top 20 pound-for-pound guy to a top 10 or top 5 pound-for-pound guy with his TKO2 win over highly regarded slugger Fernando Montiel in February.
The hitter was born in the Philippines, so he enjoys a measure of the adulation among Filipino fight fans that the Congressman, Manny Pacquiao does. But Donaire lives in the U.S., in California, so his level of fame isn't in that Pacquiao zone.
Donaire (26-1 with 18 KOs) -- as you can see in the video I shot at the Edison Ballroom in NYC on Tuesday, at a press conference to hype Donaire's Oct. 22 title defense at the MSG Theater against fellow lefty Omar Narvaez (from Argentina; 35-0-2 with 19 KOs) -- is an affable gent with a wicked sense of humor. Combine that with a fan-friendly desire to separate his foe's head from his neck, and you have someone who has a chance to make some ripples outside the hard-core circle.
Donaire understands this, which is why he he tried to maximize his leverage after the Montiel win. "The Filipino Flash" left Top Rank, and signed with Golden Boy, in March. Top Rank cried foul, saying that the 28-year-old was still under contract. An arbitrator agreed, and in July, Donaire kissed and made up with Top Rank, with a multiyear contract extension.
Americans aren't overly enamored of jockey-sized fighters. They'll make some exceptions, more so in this era, in which the heavyweights by and large stink up the joint ... but fighters under 120 pounds basically get ignored by the non-fanatics. But we recommend people make an exception, and tune in to see Donaire do his thing. And if you really have an aversion to under 120-pounders, not to worry, he'll be moving up to 122 pounds soon, and likely 126 after that. We hear that Donaire attacked NY cheesecake and pizza with the same ferocity he does foes, so he'll likely have to add a mile or two of roadwork so he makes 122 for Narvaez.
Woods' Twitter handle is @Woodsy1069