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At his peak, Filipino professional boxer Nonito Donaire was number 3 on the pound-for-pound rankings, just behind Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., and voted Fighter of the Year in 2012 by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Nicknamed “The Filipino Flash,” Donaire had blasting hand speed and a vicious left hook that earned him The Ring’s Knockout of the Year award, in 2007 against Vic Darchinyan and 2011 against Fernando Montiel.
But like with all boxers, Father Time started to catch up on him. It started out with a demoralising loss against Guillermo Rigondeaux, who dominated Donaire and took his WBO and The Ring super bantamweight titles.
“I was not at my best that night,” Donaire said after the Rigondeaux loss. “I’m not going to take anything away from the guy. He prepared well. He prepared for me well. He studied well. He trained hard for it. I just wasn’t there. I just didn’t show up that night, and that was my fault. I wasn’t focused enough. And hopefully I get an opportunity to prove I wasn’t my best that night.”
Less than two years later, Donaire went up against Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters to defend his WBA (Super) featherweight belt. The Jamaican-Panamanian boxer proved to be too much in size and power, dropping Donaire twice and handing him his first knock loss in a fight of the year contender.
But in 2019, Donaire faced off with Naoya Inoue, a Japanese boxer nicknamed “The Monster” for good reason. Sporting an 18-0 undefeated record, Inoue had smashed through every single one of his previous opponents, and Donaire was coming into the fight as a heavy underdog. At 36 years old and in the twilight of his boxing career, Donaire made his final stand and gave the young fighter the toughest bout of his career.
In a Fight of the Year contender, the two warriors battled it out over 12 rounds. Donaire rocked Inoue and opened up a cut above his left eye, then the young boxer rallied and hurt Donaire badly with a body in the 11th round.
Brent Hedtke put it beautifully when he declared the fight the best boxing match of 2019:
This was to be a career-defining fight for both men, though for the aging Donaire it was almost certain to define his as “over.” Instead, the two men found something in each other that they hadn’t in their combined 62 previous opponents. In Donaire, Inoue found a man with answers to his typically rhetorical questions. In contrast, Inoue helped Donaire find something for which he’d seemingly been searching for years: himself.2019 Fight Of The Year: Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire – Queensberry Rules
Nonito Donaire’s training routine & diet
Donaire usually begins training camp 10 weeks before an upcoming bout. “I drive from Las Vegas to San Carlos, California, with all my training gear and settle in a hotel for two months,” he said in an interview. “My manager sends me sparring partners around the end of the first month.”
During his training camp, Donaire divides his day into two training blocks – mornings are for road work while afternoons are for boxing work. “I run in the morning for about an hour and after that I sleep for about two hours,” he told The Philippine Star. “Noontime, I train for about three hours, rest and then mingle with friends; or I read or play video games.”
He makes sure he gets at least 8 hours of sleep per night, plus a nap throughout the day – “I usually sleep at around 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m. And then I sleep again.”
When it comes to his training diet, Donaire usually eats a lot of egg omelettes, tuna melts, steak and fruits like mangoes and strawberries. But as he started moving up weight classes throughout his career, Donaire became less strict with his diet.
“Now that I’ve moved up in weight I am allowed to be not as strict in preparation for the fight,” he said. “I can eat steak, rice, sushi, and pretty much whatever, but I try to stay away from junk food. I don’t really have a regular diet. I just eat what I’m craving for because most of the time, being health-conscious is no fun.”
Like all athletes, Donaire consumes a huge amount of water every day to replenish his body, “I probably drink six liters in addition to recovery drinks. I sweat so much that if I don’t keep hydrated, I get headaches and cramps.”
He also takes a number of supplements to aid his recovery — “I take multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin B, electrolytes, ZMA for recovery when I sleep, Aerobitine, Hypoxygen, Vitalyze, and then recovery drinks like Proglycosyn.”
I believe the major difference is building upon what we had in the Burnett fight. I made sure to continue to stay disciplined with my diet and continue to be at the gym. As I said, it wasn’t completely 100% boxing throughout and we did implement training outside of the boxing gym and different drills as well. We made sure to have rest when needed so we could turn it up in these last couple weeks.Donaire: I can’t wait to show the crowd what we’ve been working on | World Boxing Super Series
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