TODAY the quintessential battle between the old grizzled lion versus the young warrior will be played out. Twice.
Nonito Donaire vs. Nordine Oubaali. Devin Haney vs. Jorge Linares.
I’m picking a nice mix of the old and the new: Donaire and Haney for the win.
DONAIRE. The “Filipino Flash” last fought in November of 2019 and faltered in his bid to become the first man to defeat the formidable Noaya Inoue.
But Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) gave as much as he got in the fight and the formidable Inoue had to dig down deep to overcome Donaire, even leaving the fight with a broken eye socket.
Donaire showed us he still has a lot of gas left in that tank and today, will perhaps be his last opportunity to show the world he is still an elite fighter at age 38.
Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) is coming off a victory over Takuma Inoue, younger brother of Naoya, on the same night Donaire lost to Naoya.
A Frenchman of Moroccan descent, Oubaali is a southpaw who likes to bring the fight, coming forward behind active hands and doesn’t mind getting into furious exchanges.
Technically he isn’t a young lion anymore since he is already 34, but he is still much younger than Donaire and has a lesser number of professional fights.
He will have a reach and height disadvantage against Donaire and this should be an interesting battle of contrasting styles. Oubaali will be the busier fighter and will throw combinations, while Donaire will try to catch him coming in with that vaunted left hook.
Donaire has pretty much done everything, having won titles at flyweight, bantamweight, super bantamweight, featherweight and an interim title at flyweight. Regardless of the outcome of today’s battle, the Hall of Fame awaits.
But that donnybrook against “Monster” Naoya which won Fight of the Year honors should be reason enough to keep his fans believing he can still make it. On previous occasions I have been critical of his over-reliance on that vaunted left hook, and I maintain the same prognosis. Hopefully, at this stage of his career he is wiser and more composed.
As long as he throws jabs and combinations to set up that hook properly, I predict he will stop Oubaali in Round 10.
HANEY. Twenty-one-year-old Devin Haney is one of the sport’s rising stars. In his last fight against former world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa, he dominated the accomplished Cuban and demonstrated his full arsenal.
Haney (25-0, 14 KOs) appears to be the complete package, but the jury is still out on him on account of the level of opposition he has faced at this stage of his young career. Outside of Gamboa, he still has to defeat another name fighter.
Tonight will be an opportunity to add another former world champion to his resume.
On the other end of the spectrum is the 35-year-old Linares, who has tons of experience, also a world champion in several weight classes.
Perhaps his best work would come ironically in a loss to Vasyl Lomachenko whom he was able to knock down before himself succumbing to a body shot in Round 10.
This fight is by no means an easy one for either fighter, but I think Haney will prove to be too quick for Linares. Barring any accidents, I predict him to win at least eight rounds and emerge victorious via decision. But it won’t be easy. Linares will rough him up and batter him, and this should be a litmus test for “The Dream.”
LAST ROUND. It’s on Micah Kara Gotico who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers gaw!