MANILA, Philippines - It looks like WBC “emeritus” champion Toshiaki Nishioka will retire from the ring whether he beats or loses to unified IBF/WBO superbantamweight titlist Nonito Donaire Jr. in their 12-round bout at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, tomorrow morning (Manila time).
That’s because the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) does not recognize IBF or WBO title fights, only WBC and WBA. A Japanese contender who figures in an IBF or WBO championship bout is considered retired by the JBC and will not be licensed to fight in Japan ever. An example is Nobuhiro Ishida who retired his JBC license before battling and losing to Dmitry Pirog for the WBO middleweight crown in Moscow last May.
Writer Masatoshi Ueda, whose stories appear in the popular Boxing Mobile website exclusive to Japanese phone subscribers, said Nishioka will go for broke against Donaire because he has nothing to lose. “This could be like the Amir Khan-Danny Garcia fight,” said Ueda. “Khan is more skilled than Garcia but Garcia won it with just one punch. Nonito is too smart and skilled to lose to Nishioka. The only way Nishioka can win is if he knocks out Nonito with one punch. Nishioka is a dangerous fighter because he has one-punch knockout power.”
If Nishioka upsets Donaire, he will not be recognized by the JBC as the new IBF/WBO superbantamweight champion so that in case he decides to continue fighting, the Japanese will never step into a ring in his home country again. The JBC is uncompromising when it comes to banning fighters who go against its policies.
Ueda said while Donaire failed to score a knockout in his last three fights, it doesn’t mean his power has diminished since moving up to the 122-pound division. “I think Nonito could’ve stopped (Jeffrey) Mathebula in his last fight,” said Ueda. “But you must remember that his opponents know about his left hook. The focus of their defense is to stop Nonito’s left hook so it’s not as easy to land it as before.”
Although Mathebula went the distance, he was floored in the fourth round and finished the fight with a broken jaw. He later underwent surgery with two plates implanted on both jaws to repair the damage. Donaire’s father-in-law Gerry Marcial said Mathebula’s injury is proof that the champion’s power remains potent. Marcial predicted Donaire to knock out Nishioka in the fourth round.
Ueda said Nishioka meant no disrespect to Donaire when he entered the ring to challenge the Filipino after the Mathebula fight. “I arranged for Nishioka to enter the ring,” said Ueda. “He came to the US to watch the fight. Nishioka thought of challenging Nonito during the weigh-in but decided against it because it might be misinterpreted as disrespect. Later, when (Jorge) Arce asked for too much money to fight Nonito, Nishioka became the next option. Mr. (Akihiko) Honda phoned me to ask if Nonito would agree to fight Nishioka. Mr. Honda then met with Nonito in Las Vegas. I remember that last December, Nonito was a guest on a TV boxing show in Tokyo and Nishioka was invited to appear with him. But Nishioka declined the invitation. I don’t know why. Now that he’s 36, Nishioka wants one last fight and I think this will be an exciting match between the Filipino Flash and the Speed King. Nishioka is a southpaw with a fast and strong left straight while Nonito has a fast and strong left hook. It could come down to who lands the left straight or left hook first.”
Ueda, 41, is in the US to cover the fight for Boxing Mobile. He said Japanese fans admire both Nishioka and Donaire. There’s even a Japanese fans club for Donaire headed by Kazuaki Miyauchi. “Many Japanese people respect fighters like Nonito who catch their heart no matter where they’re from so in my opinion, although most Japanese will be cheering for Nishioka, it is not that they hate Nonito,” said Ueda.
Ueda, who lived in the UK for 15 years with his parents before returning to Tokyo at 19, said the most popular fighter in Japan today is unbeaten WBA superfeatherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama whose record is 18-0-1 with 15 KOs. Another popular Japanese fighter Koki Kameda is the WBA bantamweight titleholder but he’s more known as a “bad guy” for his taunting tactics. Kameda has two brothers Daiki and Tomoki who are also pros. Daiki is a former WBA flyweight champion while Tomoki, unbeaten with a 24-0 record, including 15 KOs, fights in Mexico.
Donaire, 29, hasn’t lost in his last 28 fights and has a record of 29-1, with 18 KOs. When Nishioka turned pro in 1994, Donaire was only 12. Nishioka’s record is 39-4-3 with 24 KOs. The Japanese hasn’t fought since beating Juan Manuel Marquez’ brother Rafael in Las Vegas last October on scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113. Nishioka has never lost to a Filipino in eight career fights with Fernando Montilla, whom he fought to a draw, the closest to a win.