News that the World Boxing Council (WBC) has ordered its bantamweight (118 pounds) champion Nordine Oubaali to defend his title against our very own Nonito Donaire is a very strange twist that could have a telling effect on Filipinos and other contenders eyeing a slice of the division’s titles.
The still undefeated Oubaali outpointed Takuma Inoue on Nov. 7, 2019 in the undercard of the Donaire-Naoya Inoue main event in Saitama, Japan. Takuma is the younger brother of Naoya, the International Boxing Federation bantamweight title who took the World Boxing Association Super bantamweight title from Donaire.
While the fight between Donaire and Oubaali is yet to be finalized, it provides a strange twist, since the Filipino has the tools to beat the French fighter. From what I have observed from the Takuma-Oubaali fight, the French boxer is tailor made to be sliced up by Donaire since he is shorter, lacks speed, and does not possess one-punch knockout power. Oubaali stands 5’3”.
And even if Donaire is already 37 years old, he demonstrated in his epic fight against Naoya that he still can hurt or stagger an opponent, and take a good amount of punishment.
A look at the latest The Ring rankings at 118 pounds show Donaire is the number one contender behind champion Naoya. Oubaali is at number two in the contenders’ list.
Didn’t I say months before the Naoya-Donaire fight that the Filipino is actually a featherweight (126 pounds) masquerading as a bantamweight, and had a chance of winning against the Japanese? I think very few took that view seriously.
Now, if Donaire wins over Oubaali and collars the WBC bantamweight title, that would put him in the path of compatriots who are active in that division. Also, a rematch with Naoya would become highly possible if Donaire smashes Oubaali. One of the Filipino pugs who might find himself crossing paths with Donaire is John Riel Casimero, who won the World Boxing Organization bantamweight title by unexpectedly stopping Zolani Tete in Nov. 30, 2019.
Casimero, now a three-division champion, is ranked number three in the contenders’ list in The Ring’s rankings at 118 pounds.
If Donaire and Casimero end up facing each other, that will mark the first time that two reigning champions in the same division will be fighting each other.
There are also other aspiring Filipino pugs at 118 pounds who could barge anytime in the world rankings. Among them are Carl Jammes Martin and Reymart Gaballo, both undefeated but have yet to get more international exposure.
Then there’s Donnie “Ahas” Nietes, another three-division champion, who currently campaigns at junior bantamweight (115 pounds).
But if Donaire decides to retire and lets Oubaali continue his reign, that would make a lot of people thinking of what could have been, because one day in November 2019, he made the monster look more like a human being. Or we did not expect Donaire to be the King Kong who would give Godzilla (Naoya) a fierce fight?