Boxing

Nonito Donaire vs. Reymart Gaballo: A (Filipino) Flash and Fury Preview

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Saturday, December 11 live on Showtime from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, WBC Bantamweight World Champion and future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27 KOs) defends his title against undefeated interim WBC Bantamweight Titleholder Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20 KOs) in an all-Filipino clash of power, flash, and fury.

At stake is Donaire’s WBC bantamweight title. For Gaballo, though, this will be a chance to instantly reach the elite ranks of the division by knocking off a true legend.

“Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire, who fights out of Las Vegas by way of Bohol in the Philippines, earned Hall of Fame status long ago and is now simply adding extra chapters to a legendary career.

In his last fight, the 20-year veteran and former 4-division world champ obliterated defending WBC bantamweight titlist Nordine Oubaali in four rounds to become, at 38 years of age, the oldest fighter to ever hold the 118 lb. belt. In the bout prior to that, he pushed pound-for-pound standout Naoya Inoue to the limit, ultimately coming up a bit short in a 2019 Fight of the Year battle.

Now 39, Donaire continues a stellar career which has seen him capture nine world titles over the span of three decades.

On the other side of the ring, 25-year-old Reymart Gaballo from General Santos City in the Philippines is just starting on what he hopes to be a legendary boxing run.

The hungry and aggressive battler won the vacant interim 118 lb. title last December via split decision in a challenging contest against former world champ Emmanuel Rodriguez. Although struggling at times and having some flaws exposed by his experienced opponent, Gaballo willed his way to this biggest victory of his 7-year professional career.

Age has not slowed Donaire down all that much, if at all. Tall and athletic, he still has explosive power in both hands, facilitated by outstanding hand speed and reflexes. His timing, augmented through experience, has made him, arguably, an even better offensive fighter overall. His potent left hook remains among the best one-punch weapons in the sport.

Adding to his physical abilities is a veteran’s refined sense of space and pace that allows him to conserve his energies and pick his optimal spots for offense.

On defense, Donaire is all-around solid. Although not a defensive fighter by nature, his athleticism helps him avoid shots and his potent offensive tools keep opposition tentative and cautious.

Gaballo is a confident, aggressive fighter who like to start fast and stay on the attack.

He’s got a good jab, but is not always consistent in using it. A sharp straight right hand behind that jab is his best weapon, although he often throws that shot even without the aid of the setup punch. Everything he throws, however, is strong, crisp, and delivered with bad intent, even though he can get wild with his shots.

Gaballo has some very real defensive flaws, however, and he can definitely be touched. Up until now, though, he’s shown himself to have a sturdy chin.

Nonito Donaire will enter Saturday’s title bout a huge favorite. There’s no looking past the fact that his body of work is infinitely greater than Gaballo’s and that his main stage abilities are well proven proven and battle-tested.

The younger challenger’s biggest fight to date was against Emmanuel Rodriguez about a year ago and many thought he was lucky to get the split decision victory in that one.

However, time is not on the 39-year-old Donaire’s side and, in Gaballo, he’ll be facing a tough, physically strong fighter almost fourteen years his junior. There’s been no major indication that the defending champ is slowing down, but he’s definitely at the age where fighters do sometimes age overnight.

Gaballo presents the type of physical presence that could offer stiff resistance to the favored Donaire, especially if the veteran is looking past his less accomplished, less experienced opponent. Gaballo’s mental makeup also indicates that he won’t go down easy. As long as his chin holds up, Gaballo will not stop pushing forward, trying to do damage. This guarantees an exciting battle whether it lasts one round or the full twelve.

Expect Donaire, however, to do his thing and continue on his Hall of Fame roll unless Gaballo shows a next gear and some next-level ability he’s yet to show as a pro.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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