Manny Pacquiao is 34 years old and has lost two consecutive fights. Nonito Donaire is 30 years old and hasn’t lost a match since 2001. Twelve months ago you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who thought that the latter was the best Filipino fighter in the world today. At that point in time, mind you, Pacquiao was still riding a 17-fight, seven-year winning streak. Donaire, meanwhile, was just an up-and-comer who hadn’t really fought anyone of note.
Today the question doesn’t sound as crazy as it once did.
Fresh off a dominating early knockout victory over Jorge Arce, Donaire is being viewed as one of the premiere fighters in the sport. A battle against Guillermo Rigondeaux looms ahead, and if he can win that one, the sky’s the limit for The Filipino Flash. Conversely, following his embarrassing knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez, there are now serious questions as to whether or not Pacquiao should even continue fighting. He likely will, but the fact that are so many are calling on him to hang up his gloves speaks volumes.
Recently, Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum was asked whether Donaire had established himself enough to headline a pay-per-view card yet. Per the Manila Bulletin:
Despite his scintillating win in Houston, Nonito Donaire hasn’t reached that exalted status of somebody about to headline a pay-per-view card ala Manny Pacquiao.
Not yet, according to Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum.
Whether that is an indictment on Donaire’s skill level or his ability to draw interest is questionable, but Arum’s message there was clear: Pacquiao is still the No. 1 Filipino fighter around.
It is worth noting, there is nothing wrong with saying that Donaire has surpassed Pacquiao as the top Filipino pound-for-pounder on the planet. (If you truly believe that.) After all, he is a lot younger and has far less big fight wear and tear on his tires. At the same time, it is important to take strength of competition into account. Who has Donaire really beaten thus far? Pacquiao’s big name victories dwarf that of Donaire’s at this point in their careers. Then again – that’s the past. We’re talking about both men in the present.
Obviously it’s a complicated question. Even I’m not sure what the right answer is.
What do you think: has Donaire surpassed Pacquiao as the best Filipino fighter in the world today?
(Kudos Manila Bulletin)