Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire may not register with the average boxing fan who tend to concentrate on the heavier divisions that better reflect the size of the general populace, but these are two Ring ranked P4P bantys, a rarity to see two little fellas so highly ranked from a lower division.
Rarer still is a genuine banty superfight Saturday, this February 19th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas when the modern day Mexican legend Montiel puts up his rankings along side his WBO and WBC belts against the latest Filipino Flash, Donaire.
Now, rankings are a funny thing with Donaire, 25-1, 17 KO ranked P4P higher at #5 to Montiel, 43-2-23, 33 KO at #7 according to Ring, yet the vastly more credentialed Montiel is properly #1 in his banty division whereas Donaire is #5.
Boxrec, the “other” major independent rating medium, doesn’t see fit to rate them highly as P4Pers, so go figure the intractable mysteries of boxing rankings in between figuring all the known physical laws of the universe and solving the immutable human condition if you dare.
More compelling from a fight point of view is that both are on a high arc of development, probably at or close to their peaks as fighters, and little men have a tradition of being the most exciting fighters of all the weight classes. Add in the considerable ring achievements of both, and boxing purists are salivating in anticipation of what could be a knockdown, drag out war or a finely tuned boxing classic.
The interesting part for me is that we may have already had something of a stylistic preview of the fight last year when Montiel flew over to Japan to take on another P4P banty champ in the monstrous Hozumi Hasegawa who was in the process of delivering a pitch perfect boxing beating on Montiel before being suddenly derailed by a left hook. It would seem obvious that fight might be a bout of interest that Team Donaire could focus to observe how Montiel might fight a tall, technical boxer that Donaire is. The Jhonny Gonzalez fight that Montiel dropped a decision would be another example of a tall, technical boxer having much his own way with Montiel.
Montiel may be shortstuff in height and reach, but this fighter with his proven power and credentials is never truly out of any fight. The latest training reports have him using some modern training wrinkles not usually associated with traditional Mexican warriors, so he’s fine tuning his own strengths for his own game plan and timetable for this fight. If he prevails, he could be known as the Asian Assassin to counter the Manny Pacquiao moniker as the Mexican Assassin.
Young Donaire is no slouch in the power department though, being the only fighter to ever knockout champions Vic Darchinyan and Volodymyr Sydorenko, so any fighter coming in on Donaire is potentially in grave danger of being whacked out muy pronto.
I suspect that Montiel will be a slight favorite, but really, this is a pickem fight. I favor young Donaire who has been held back somewhat since his signature win over Darchinyan almost 4 yrs ago, but damned if I’d bet the skinny dime that separates the ability of the two.
I see Donaire outboxing Montiel early on, but what happens next depends on who pulls their fistic genius out of the vast reservoir of talent to nail down the win.
The dustup is for far more than skinny dimes, bragging rights, or ABC trinkets though. The future financial rewards to the winner might be the greatest ever bestowed on a little man, so mucho grande dinero is riding on the outcome.
And they said boxing was dead……NOT!!!!!!!