Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime collaborate this Saturday. Nordine Oubaali defends his WBC Bantamweight crown in the main event against the vastly decorated Nonito Donaire.
France’s Oubaali (17-0, KO12) is the new kid on the Bantamweight block, but is a late bloomer at 34 after a long amateur career that gave him 2007 World Championship Bronze, and a quarter final spot at the 2012 Olympics, where he was defeated by Michael Conlan.
After a debut in Morocco, where his family descend from, Oubaali had his next 13 fights in France, where he built his way up the rankings to gain a lofty position in the WBC rankings.
The southpaw took on old amateur rival Rau’shee Warren for the vacant belt, and he took a clear enough decision to become the new champion.
That was in January 2019, and Nordine has made two defences since. Arthur Villanueva was forced to retire after six rounds in July 2019 in Kazakhstan, and, four months later, Oubaali travelled to Japan to comfortably outscore Takuma Inoue on the undercard of his opponent’s World Boxing Super Series final match.
Oubaali is a tricky customer, and he will hope to have too much for Donaire this weekend.
Donaire (40-6, KO26) needs little introduction as a belt holder in four different weights over the years, his first coming all the way back in 2007. That was down at Flyweight, as he ripped the IBF and IBO belts from Vic Darchinyan in a shock fifth round stoppage win.
After three defences, and an interim WBA reign at Super Flyweight, Donaire moved up to Bantamweight, and took the WBC and WBO straps from Fernando Montiel in February 2011 in a ruthless second round win.
Two fights later, a move to Super Bantamweight saw him take the vacant WBO belt with a split decision win over Wilfredo Vazquez, and he added the IBF crown next, outscoring Jeffrey Mathebula.
A couple more wins followed before the Filipino found the slippery Guillermo Rigondeaux too much to handle, and, although he dropped the gifted Cuban, he fell to a points defeat.
Since then, Donaire has had runs of wins, and then setbacks, as he won the WBA (Super) Featherweight title in May 2014, before losing it one fight later, stopped in six by Nicholas Walters.
Four wins on the spin back at Super Bantamweight, including winning the WBO belt got the 38-year-old back on track, but he then shipped the belt in a disappointing points defeat to Jesse Magdaleno, and two fights later, he gave his all but came up short against Carl Frampton in Belfast.
Back ‘The Filipino Flash’ came again, entering the Bantamweight World Boxing Super Series, and winning the WBA (Super) belt in the quarter finals, taking advantage of a Ryan Burnett back injury to win after four rounds.
A stunning sixth round knockout of Stephon Young moved Donaire into the final, where he was given little chance against Japanese buzzsaw, Naoya Inoue.
Nonito rocked “The Monster’ several times in the contest in Saitama, and the pair served up a fight of the year thriller, which Inoue took on the cards in a classic. That was in November 2019, so it will be interesting to see what that has taken out of him.
Prediction: This one is sure to be Donaire’s last stand, and it’s likely he will give his all and go on the attack against Oubaali. I think after a successful opening few rounds, the Frenchman will take over, and box his way to a clear points win.
A Super Lightweight attraction heads the undercard, as Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias (16-1, KO16) and Canada-based Kazakh, Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0, KO14) clash in what is an eliminator for the IBF title, a quarter of recent undisputed ten stone champion, Josh Taylor’s collection.
Matias has halted every man he has won against, but suffered defeat for the first time in February last year as he was dropped and then lost a close decision against Petros Ananyan.
He has since returned in October of the same year, retiring Malik Hawkins after six one sided rounds.
Jukembayev has been perfect so far, and the 30-year-old has fought all of his contests in his adopted Canada. The last was in January 2020, knocking out Ricardo Lara in two. I favour the Kazakh to stop Matias late on.
A ten round bout at Super Lightweight sees Gary Antuanne Russell (13-0, KO13) take on Puerto Rican, Jovanie Santiago (14-1-1, KO10).
It’s a step up in class for Russell, as Santiago was last in the ring with Adrien Broner, and he was competitive in a February 2021 points loss. Russell may have to go the distance for the first time in this one, but can come through clearly.