A tepid fight, a lot of love for Nonito

Donaire retains title in a unanimous decision. Photo by Chris Farina

By Elton Lugay

An air of eager anticipation was evident among Filipinos as they arrived at the Madison Square Garden on October 22 to watch the World Bantamweight Championship between Nonito Donaire of General Santos City and Omar Narvaez of Argentina.

Toward the end, the excitement turned to jeers and boos, prompting Donaire to apologize for a “boring” fight.

“I was ready to go to war,” he told The FilAm at the end of the 12-round bout where judges unanimously proclaimed him winner, defending his title. “But the dude was too defensive.”

Narvaez covered his face almost the whole time. He would punch Donaire in the face, step back and then cover his face again. One HBO boxing analyst said he’d like to see “more passion” from the Argentinean. An impatient Donaire would throw punches amid all the jabbing. He said hearing the crowd roar gave him so much energy.

But that energy was not sustained throughout. Instead the crowd hissed, booed and yelled, “This is bullshit,” proclaiming their disappointment at a fight that had no visible fist power, no visceral roughness, no blood spurting out of the boxers’ swollen faces. It’s no spectator sport if it puts you to sleep.

“Nonito did his best to make the fight as enjoyable to watch as possible,” said Eugene Canuto, a software developer from Jersey City. “But you can only take what you’re given. He tried to open him up, but he (Narvaez) was not obliging.”

“Unfortunately, Narvaez just wanted to get out there in one piece and just kept his guard up the last few rounds,” said Steven Raga of Pilipino Unity for Progress. “The Narvaez fan sitting behind me loud and confident during the first three rounds, eventually left before the fight even finished.”

Actor Michael Rosete said the fight was reminiscent of the Pacquiao-Clottey match of March 2010 where Joshua Clottey assumed a defensive posture, as Manny Pacquiao danced around him, raining him with aggressive punches. That fight also ended in a decision.

“As a fan, I loved the fight, but I was hoping for more action,” said Upper West Side resident Manny Madriaga.

As the fight dragged on into Round 10, many could be seen heading for the exit.

Donaire wears breast cancer awareness campaign on his legs. Photo by Elton Lugay

Donaire rallied support from Filipino Americans hopping from one event to another days before the fight. A strong supporter of the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, he wore pink knee-high socks to Narvaez’ all-red ensemble.

Consul General and Mrs. Mario de Leon Jr. were among the thousands of FilAms who swarmed Madison Square Garden, many wearing sweaters with the colors of the Philippine flag.

“Thank you for giving me some love,” Donaire told the mostly FilAm crowd. “I’m very happy to represent you.”

Bo-rring. Photo by Chris Farina

FilAms cheering the Filipino Flash. Photo by Elton Lugay

Elton Lugay is a journalist, publicist and community events organizer.

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