June 21, 2024

Filipino boxer Nonito Donaire’s victory over France’s Nordine Oubaali to capture the World Boxing Council bantamweight belt have inspired Filipino combat sports athletes in his generation to keep fighting.

The 38-year-old newly-minted champion proved to boxing fans around the world he remains a formidable athlete and became the oldest active boxer to win the world bantamweight belt.

Donaire floored Oubaali with 45 seconds remaining in the third round with a left hook before the bigger knockdown with another left hook right at the bell on the same round.

The final blow on Oubaali came at 1:52 in the fourth round when the Filipino boxer unleashed a hook-straight-uppercut combination forcing the referee to stop the fight.

“Age is (just) a number. An 80-year-old can be in a wheelchair or can be running marathons. Health is wealth,” Donaire said in his post-fight social media post.

“The human body is an incredible machine if you take care of it and we can only be as strong as our mind can be,” said Donaire during a post-fight interview.

Donaire’s message was strongly heard by current active Filipino combat sports athletes such as former two-time ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang, 37; Edward Kelly, 37; and Rene Catalan, 42, of the Catalan Fighting System. All three athletes are signed with ONE Championship, where other older fighters also have contracts.

Kelly was earlier reported to be considering retirement but his recent win against Ahmed Faress of Egypt in ONE: Full Blast has inspired him to continue fighting.

Catalan, on the other hand, remains one of the top five contenders for the ONE strawweight belt currently held by the 25-year-old Joshua Pacio of Team Lakay.

Folayang, on the other hand, is not entertaining calls for him to consider hanging up his gloves following series of defeats in Asia’s biggest MMA promotion.

In fact, Folayang’s greatest rival in ONE Championship, Shinya Aoki of Japan, has claimed that he wants the Filipino MMA legend to keep on fighting after their trilogy that ended in his favor.

Aoki said he and Folayang still have a lot on their tank despite the clamor for the Filipino fighter to consider retirement and become a full-time trainer along with Team Lakay ChairMark Sangiao.

“I still want Eduard to keep on fighting,” Aoki said in his long post in social media, sharing his life experience including the greatest life lessons after his world title bout defeat on Folayang several years ago. – Harley F. Palangchao