The WBC World Bantamweight Champion wants the recognition that would come with beating the legendary Donaire Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
When Donaire was demolished by Nicholas Walters in 2014 and beckoning retirement, a green Oubaali with over 200 amateur bouts to his name had just made his pro debut.
Although the four-division champion and future Hall of Famer Donaire, 38, and Oubaali, 34, have just a four-year age difference between them, their boxing experiences seem lightyears apart, as Donaire has boxed 289 rounds in his 20-year career compared to 94 by Oubaali.
Their paths and careers finally converged in Japan, however, on Nov. 7, 2019, when a rejuvenated Donaire revived his career and gave a fantastic account of himself in a spirited fight of the year loss against Naoya Inoue. In the co-main event that night, Oubaali defended his 118-pound WBC World Bantamweight title against the pound-for-pound fighter’s brother, Takuma Inoue, in a unanimous decision win.
Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) and Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) have not fought since, but one thing has remained certain: They’d be fighting each other the next time they’d step into the ring.
After Oubaali contracted COVID-19 and caused a cancellation for their originally scheduled December showdown, the two are finally ready to clash at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. this Saturday, May 29 on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
“Winning this fight against Donaire will get me recognition,” said Oubaali. “I am the world champion but this fight will help people remember my name as someone who beat a Hall of Famer. Nonito is an experienced fighter but I feel I have as much experience. I fought the best fighters of the world in my amateur career. I’ve been boxing at the highest level since I was very young, so I feel we’re both experienced fighters. That will make this a very exciting and entertaining fight for the fans.”
The Parisian pugilist of Moroccan descent said the near 19-month month layoff and the virus that he’s overcome will not result in any ring rust.
“I’m always active and very disciplined. Boxing is my life, and my team and I have the experience to deal with these aspects to keep us going and be ready,” said Oubaali. “Experiencing quarantine in full lockdown was a big mental test but I believe that my fighting mentality was key to keep focus. I used the time to stay focused on my objectives and I had the chance to spend more time with my wife and daughter.”
The fighter billed as the “Filipino Flash” is looking to prove he still has a fierce flare and flicker left in the twilight of his career.
Although Donaire has six career losses, the defeat against Inoue was the first at 118 pounds for the former flyweight, bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight champion. His other losses have come twice at 126 (Walters, Carl Frampton) and 122 (Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jessie Magdaleno) and once at 112 (Rosendo Sanchez) in his second pro fight.
“ Winning this fight against Donaire will get me recognition. ” WBC World Bantamweight Champion - Nordine Oubaali
Donaire is 3-3 in his last six fights dating back to 2016. He’s insisted that he’s best suited to fight at 118 pounds at this stage of his career. Against Oubaali, he’s looking to reclaim a title he once owned throughout 2011, when he won the WBC bantamweight belt after knocking out Fernando Montiel in the second round.
Oubaali won the vacant crown he now cherishes in 2019 when he scored a unanimous decision win over Rau'shee Warren in his United States debut.
“Winning the championship was a dream come true for me,” said Oubaali. “Nonito proved why he’s a future Hall of Famer [against Inoue]. I knew it was not going to be an easy fight for Inoue at all, and Nonito earned his title shot against me.”
Oubaali is nearly a -260 favorite to beat Donaire in most sportsbooks. He will sport a four-year advantage in youth, but the southpaw will be giving up a 3 ½ inch height advantage and 1 ½ inch reach advantage.
Much like Donaire was trained by his father Nonito Sr. for most of his career, boxing has been a family affair for Oubaali as well.
The Noisy-le-sec resident Oubaali has been coached by his brother Ali since his pro debut while training at Top Rank Bagnolet in France.
“I turned professional because of Ali,” said Oubaali, who grew up admiring Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Muhammad Ali as his favorite fighters.
“I actually was thinking of retiring after accomplishing two Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012. We discussed it, and I told Ali that if I made the leap to go professional, I was not to be a random fighter, nor just the French champion. It was to be a world champion. The dream has been achieved, but now my objective is to unify the division.”
Should Oubaali defeat Donaire, he could potentially next face the winner of the Aug. 14 SHOWTIME fight between WBA “regular” champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and WBO titleholder John Riel Casimero.
His unification dreams can also be realized by dealing with “The Monster” Inoue, owner of the IBF and WBA “super” world championships at 118.
“I just want to unify the division and prove I'm the best bantamweight in the world,” said Oubaali. “I do think Inoue is the most interesting fight for me after. We will see how things develop after this fight and see what is the best option for my career. I have the quality to be a unified champion.
“I think every fan of boxing can enjoy my boxing style. I’m an offensive fighter by nature with an entertaining style, but I’m also a very good chess player. I can adjust my style to whatever is necessary on the ring. You have to be intelligent as a fighter. On May 29 against Nonito, I know people will know and remember my name and why I’m a world champion.”
For a closer look at Oubaali vs Donaire, check out our fight night page.
- Oubaali vs Donaire