NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK — Nonito Donaire posted a shutout on the cards, but failed to impress fans in struggling to break a tight defense from Omar Narvaez last night (October 22) in Madison Square Garden.
Despite towering over Narvaez, Donaire was patient early in seeking to find the timing to catch Narvaez with his left hook. Donaire was able to land a few glancing right crosses to the head and body. Narvaez rebounded in the second by nullifying Donaire’s power shots with a high guard. Narvaez also landed a lead left hook as Donaire stalked him.
Donaire took the third on activity, but was made to miss wildly many times by Narvaez’s upper body movement. He did succeed in briefly stunning Narvaez in the fourth with a flush straight right. The challenger did well in the fifth by working his left jab, causing swelling to develop around Donaire’s eyes.
The second half of the fight was characterized by Donaire flicking jabs and flurrying, particularly at the end of rounds, to win them. Narvaez appeared content to make Donaire’s offense look inept with his superb defense, but never showed the urgency to make the Filipino champion pay with counters. By the eighth, the New York crowd began to loudly boo the lack of engaging action.
Going into the championship rounds, Donaire’s corner implored him to focus his shots downstairs to lower Narvaez’s guard. Donaire started well with a hard right cross to the body, but again struggled to land anything significant after that. Narvaez was no better, only throwing a few jabs and a left hook.
The boos returned heavily in the 11th. Donaire’s only combination punching was a shoeshine flurry at the end of the round. In the corner he admitted to his team that he was “bored.” The fans were in angry agreement, starting a very loud “This is bullshit!” chant in the middle of the 12th. Neither fighter tried to engage much in the final round, capping a anti-climatic ending to a bout that was thought to be a showcase for Donaire after being out of the ring for over six months.
The judges docked Narvaez heavily for his defense first style, giving Donaire a shutout of 120-108 on all three cards. An apologetic Donaire made no excuses for his part in the fight.
“I guess I know how Pacquiao felt with Clottey,” said a visibly disappointed Donaire. “Everybody was telling me to calm down but I wanted a knockout. I didn’t… the crowd didn’t deserve this. I wanted it to be a knockout, I wanted it to be sensational. I did my best but it was definitely disappointing. He’s a veteran but he didn’t come to fight.”
I predicted Donaire to win by knockout. Near the end of the fight it was the fans who were nearly out cold from boredom. This fight showed a few things. One, Narvaez was much better than I thought he was. His southpaw stance and defense had Donaire completely befuddled. Second, Donaire runs into problems when he has to lead. Third, Donaire needs to be in there next with Jorge Arce. That’s an exciting fight that will raise Donaire’s profile and confidence before he tackles one of the more technical and tricky fighters like a Toshiaki Nishioka, another southpaw.