Donaire Fights for the Philippines
The whole world seemed to collapse on the Philippines leading into Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr.’s fight against Vic Darchiniyan November 10, 2013 (Manila time) held at Corpus Christi, Texas.
On October 15, less than a month before the fight, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated Central Visayas. Cebu, Masbate and Northern Mindanao were affected. But it was Donaire’s home province of Bohol which was most damaged, having 201 out of the 222 total casualties.
12 days later, October 27, Filipino fight fans were hoping to find some measure of consolation in the fight of Mark Muñoz in the UFC. Muñoz eventually suffered a devastating defeat against Lyoto Machida. Muñoz, so far has been the most consistent and high profile Filipino in MMA’s most prominent league. Machida landed a head kick early in the first round that knocked out the ‘Filipino Wrecking Machine’.
Days before the November 10 fight of Donaire, weather agencies from around the world warned of Super Typhoon Yolanda making landfall in the Philippines. On November 9, the scale of the damage was far-reaching and almost unbelievable. The eye of the storm again went through Bohol. This time more cities and lives were lost estimated in the thousands. Tacloban and Eastern Visayas were hardest hit with power, communications lost. The storm surge acted like a giant wave washing away homes, destroying roads, power lines and airports.
Col. Bob Sheridan was calling the fight along with Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Larry Merchant. Sheridan shared, prayers and sympathies for the victims especially on his upcoming trip to the Vatican. The sentiment means a lot to us, as 80% of Filipinos are Catholics. He also believed both fighters: Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchiniyan, “are professionals who will give their best whatever their state of minds.”
The Raging Bull
Vic Darchiniyan has always had the reputation of an exciting power puncher earning him the name “The Raging Bull”. He was the big name draw when he fought Donaire 6 years ago. The Australian with Armenian descent candidly said, “I was the one who made Donaire”, which was actually quite accurate. Donaire’s profile and purse was significantly higher after he defeated Darchiniyan. That’s why Vic was even more motivated to defeat “The Filipino Flash” this time around.
On September 2012, Darchiniyan upgraded his coaching staff to Edmond Tarverdyan. The striking coach also trains UFC Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. Switching his training camp from Sydney Australia to Glendale Fighting Club in California, was the right move. Since then, Darchiniyan has racked up wins against Luis Orlando Del Valle (decision) and Javier Gallo (TKO).
Nonito Donaire on the other hand comes from a decision loss against a title fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux in April of this year. He was on an emotional rollercoaster that isn’t necessarily ideal going into a huge fight. Very recently he was able to reconcile with his estranged father Nonito Donaire Senior whom he had not seen in years. The birth of Junior’s son Jarel became a reason for the two to meet again.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports wrote about Junior’s reconciliation with his father: “The infant’s name takes each of the first letters from the phrase “Junior And Rachel’s Everlasting Love.”…(the meeting) wasn’t awkward at all and it was like it was the way it was supposed to be,” Donaire Jr. said. “Father, son and grandson. We were a family again, just like that.” Donaire Sr., who taught his son the sport and coached him to become a world champion, quickly returned to his son’s corner.”
Just a day before the fight there was the devastation by Super typhoon Yolanda in Visayas and his home province of Bohol. Junior was born in Talibon, Bohol. But moved to San Mateo California at age 10. Donaire is very proud of his Filipino heritage, just like UFC fighter Mark Muñoz. Although Muñoz was born in Japan and grew up in the U.S. Muñoz’ exposure to the country was mainly through his parents, food and his faith. Both of them make it a point to come back to the Philippines to reconnect with relatives and help out country mates however they can even before the disaster.
Donaire was able to land hard rights on Darchiniyan in the early rounds. Using his superior reach, Nonito was able to land punches from the outside winning rounds 1 & 2. Darchiniyan in the succeeding rounds was able to land stronger combos and was more aggressive winning round 3-5. There was a weird ‘takedown’ by Darchiniyan on round 7, which sent both fighters to the canvas. By round 8 Darchiniyan lead 79-74 in Col Bob Sheridan’s scorecard. Larry Merchant said, “Donaire has to show passion…The drama of the fight goes to Darchiniyan.”
As a 10 round fight, the point of no return had come for Donaire in the 9th, where there would no longer be enough rounds for him to catch up via points. In my mind I knew it was looking dim. He had not shown the energy or desire to knock his opponent out which was the only means left to win. I closed my eyes for a few seconds to pray for a miracle, telling the Lord how we Filipinos needed this win so badly.
I opened my eyes with Donaire catching Darchiniyan with a strong left hook that put him down. The tough Armenian made sure to stand up, although his eyes were glassy and his head moving slower. Nonito did not want to lose the opportunity to finish it landing an uppercut and hook that again was about to put Darchiniyan down until Referee Laurence Cole mercifully stopped the fight at 2:08 of the 9th round.
“For the Philippines”
Immediately after the victory the Filipino flash said, “First and foremost prayers to the people of the Philippines who were hit by the typhoon. Please have your prayers for the people in the Philippines.” A later interview he said in Filipino, “Gusto ko sana makapagbigay ng kahit konting kasiyahan.” Doctors have advised him to undergo a complete medical check up before flying to the Philippines which he wants to visit right away. Top Rank Founder and CEO Bob Arum has also pledged P1 million pesos for the Yolanda victims during a post fight interview.
The same night, Filipina Ariella Arida placed 4th at the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. The most prestigious beauty pageant had a total of 86 candidates from around the world with Gabriella Isler of Venezuela winning the title.
Donaire, Muñoz, Arida have displayed the Filipino spirit of rising in adversity. Manny Pacquiao has already proven this even in defeat. Last December 2012, in spite of getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez, his thoughts were for his province mates who suffered from devastating typhoon PABLO. Pacquiao celebrated his birthday December 17 distributing relief goods to several towns affected in Mindanao. Pacquiao will get to fight for us once again on November 24 in Macau when he faces Brandon Rios.
No matter how difficult and tragic the circumstances Filipinos will rise. These 4 are examples of that spirit to the world. We desperately need help from abroad; we need to help each other. But we will rise.