Zolani Tete vs Nonito Donaire

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Zolani Tete vs Nonito Donaire
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Titles at Stake: 
WBO Bantamweight World Title (Tete's 4th defence). World Boxing Super Series, semi-finals


Fan Cards: Zolani Tete vs Nonito Donaire

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Champion97's picture


Great match up.

Tete is 5 years younger, has a couple less losses, has taken less punishment in his career than Donaire, he is probably the favourite. Donaire has the better resume, is the one with the better career behind him, he has had 13 more fights, Tete is a 2-weight world champion, Donaire is a 4-weight world champion, Tete has beaten some good fighters, but Donaire has beaten better fighters.

For amateur careers, it is interesting, Tete had over 5 times as many bouts, but wasn't in any meaningful international tournaments as far as BoxRec knows, but Donaire was in Golden Gloves, Olympic trials, still, Tete, with over 400 bouts, only 3 losses, that's some going.

For size, it is interesting, Tete carries very little muscle mass, he's 5'9, absolute giant, he was a world champion at 115, has competed at 112, I've never heard of a 5'9 fighter fighting at flyweight other than Tete, he's 4 centimetres taller than Donaire, who was also a massive flyweight, he not only fought at 112 but won a world title at that weight in 2007. Tete has 10 centimetres more reach than Donaire, so considering that, as well as the fact that he's taller, he might be naturally bigger than Donaire even though he is naturally spindly. Donaire was a world champion at 126, his featherweight record is 3-2, he isn't a real featherweight, but he has experience at that weight, and at 122, he was more successful, stronger at that weight, but Donaire is in this bantamweight tournament for a reason, has obviously invested a lot of time and effort he wouldn't if he thought he was too big for 118, it was a risk, coming down to 118 from 126, but he was half a pound under the limit against Burnett, and he didn't look at all weight drained in the fight, for the 4 rounds it lasted, he looked physically strong, and like the weight drop was a wise career move.

Donaire might be much faster, stronger at 118 than 126, might effectively not be as far past prime as he seemed against Walters, Frampton, but he is still 36, is still well past his best, 'age is nothing but a number', great mentality, confidence is important, but it isn't true, and Donaire might not have so many miles that it's been beaten out of him and he's finished, but still, he is past his best. Tete isn't young, he may be very slightly past his best, he doesn't have a lot of miles, not fresh as a daisy, but making 115 at 27 years old, at 5'9, that's draining, but still, I don't think he's far past his prime, and he's definitely closer to his prime than Donaire.

Tete's last two performances haven't seemed great, it was one paced, lacklustre against Narvaez, and a very old Narvaez, but he did not lose a round, and Narvaez was so negative, threw away his own chances of winning, but made it hard for Tete not to win, not to make it a very one sided fight, but to look impressive and make a statement, and in his last fight, against Aloyan, he struggled, he won a UD, fairly wide, but not nearly as wide as I and probably most people expected, and Aloyan was 4-0, professionally inexperienced, but again, he'd been 10, 12 rounds in his 4 fights, was a very good amateur, and good amateurs very often pick it up faster in the pros, so if Aloyan is a legitimately good world level fighter, that is a good win for Tete, but at the same time, you could argue 4 fights at that level are just that, and Tete should have beaten him more comfortably.

Donaire's worst night was probably against Walters, against Magdelano, Frampton, well beaten by fighters he was better than for age and weight related reasons, but against Burnett, the weight aspect benefited him, it is highly likely he will be able to make 118 and rehydrate fine against Tete like he did against Burnett, he didn't take damage against Burnett, won, wasn't a momentum boosting win, won under a horrible circumstance, but the Donaire we saw against Burnett, should be basically the same Donaire Tete will fight, and Donaire should be better than he has ever been at 126, and maybe better than in his last 5-10 fights at 122, but still, I don't think Donaire will be the same fighter he was in 2009-2013, I think that Donaire would have beaten a prime Tete, I think he is the better fighter, but still, he is not in his prime now, and I think the timing aspect is more than enough for Tete to have the beating of him.

I think Tete is very underrated, he is great at leading off with hooks to the body, he has the fundamental ability to score points, he has great variety, good defence, but I have seen his defence lack at times, against Aloyan, I thought he didn't control the distance as well as maybe he could have, got caught with more shots than I thought Aloyan would be able to land clean, and he can be hurt, Tete, was knocked out by Moruti Mthalane in 2010, but to be fair, Mthalane recently became a world champion. Tete was also down once against Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr, in 2013, in a world title eliminator. Tete's finish against Paul Butler, that lethal left uppercut, that was outstanding, he set a record against Gonya with that instant KO, he is not just a point picker who coasts, is one paced, he is dangerous fighter, can use every bit of power he has, has great footwork, is a great athlete, is a counter puncher, has accuracy. Tete will be underestimated after his last two performances, but I think he'll beat Donaire, and he is more of a threat to Inoue than people realise.

I believe Donaire has only been down in one fight, Walters might not be great, but it is easy to forget what a puncher he was, Donaire he has a granite chin, I think he is more naturally resistant to punches than Tete, the fact that he has more miles makes it more interesting, but at 118, I think Donaire might hit slightly harder, and I still think his chin might hold up better, both guys are great at setting up a KO, but I don't think either will manage to execute a knockout because I think they are both intelligent, aware enough fighters that they will negate each other's ability to set each other up for a KO.

Tete would not have changed trainers, gone to Mayweather Sr, if he thought his performance against Aloyan was his best, and probably if he didn't believe he was capable of making a statement and stopping Narvaez, so that suggests to me that he may be better in this fight, changing trainers isn't always the answer, but he isn't changing trainers based on a loss, he isn't one of these fighters to change trainers every 2 years (which is always a sign a fighter can't take responsibly for their own weaknesses, in my opinion), so I think that could definitely be a wise career move.

I think Tete will win the first 4 rounds clearly, his jab will be the difference, I think Donaire will come on strong in the mid rounds, hurt Tete, have a big round, but Tete will still get the fight at the distance he wants, and Donaire will walk onto a lot of clean punches. I think in the late rounds, Donaire will be the slightly more tired, but he will fight with urgency, if he lands on Tete's chin, he can hurt him, but I think if he hurts him late, Tete has the survival skill, and the inside fighting ability to either time-kill or fight his way out of trouble, and I think he can hurt Donaire as well if he makes him walk into one, builds on it and attacks in volume, I think he will go for it, prove he has that killer instinct, but he won't take unnecessary risks, because Donaire is always dangerous, definitely at this weight. I think the fight will be close in the last round, it will be a great round, Tete will fight brave, try to take advantage of Donaire's recklessness, but Donaire will go for broke.

I think Tete beats Donaire by a landslide UD, 117-111/118-110, and he'll go on to face Inoue in the WBSS final.