Nonito Donaire: I didn't sense any distress before injury struck Ryan Burnett
JUST out of the shower, Nonito Donaire’s shoulders occasionally hop up and down in the moments after taking his seat at the top table of the post-fight press conference, the Glasgow cold seeping into the long, narrow space backstage at the SSE Arena.
Experienced trainer Kenny Adams opened out both hands twice, before finally flashing seven fingers. Twenty seven – the number of world champions he had now trained after the ‘Filipino Flash’ took Ryan Burnett’s WBA belt in unusual circumstances.
Donaire flashed that trademark smile. A member of his team began singing songs from Disney film Moana in a bid to get the party started.
But there was no escaping the fact that this was not the way he would have wanted to become a world champion again.
Showing typical class he refused to celebrate in the minutes after Burnett had been forced to retire on his stool at the end of the fourth, instead commiserating with the Belfast man and trainer Adam Booth.
“I told him you’re a great fighter, I didn’t want to win this way,” he revealed of their exchange in the corner.
Of the 44 fights he has had across six different weight divisions since turning pro 17 years ago, none has finished in such unfortunate circumstances. But, as the oldest man in the World Boxing Super Series tournament, and someone who has been written off as a diminished force in recent years, you could understand why Saturday night was still so satisfying.
“I know it didn’t come about the way we would want it to, but a victory is a victory,” said the 35-year-old, who was fighting at 118lb for the first time since 2011.
“I feel great, I feel amazing. This tournament makes me feel 20 years younger - Burnett is 26 years old, these guys are fast, they’re strong, it’s something to look forward to.
“Ryan was a tough guy but we felt very comfortable going in there, especially after a couple of rounds. After the [Carl] Frampton fight I realised, you know what, it’s time to go back to where I belong.
“Today you saw how powerful and how fast I can be. There’s going to be much more of that. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I’m capable of in this division.
“He’s a slick guy, but I know that with my power I can hurt these guys. It’s just a matter of watching, seeing, being patient with it. But I know I can hurt if I land something.”
Despite those claims Burnett looked to be largely in control of the fight before the end arrived so suddenly, countering beautifully and landing the crisper, cleaner shots.
Donaire’s power was always a threat, however, especially when loading up after trapping the Belfast man in the neutral corner on occasion, landing occasional looping right hands over the guard as well as some punishing body shots.
Burnett signalled to Booth that there was a problem at the end of the third, but Donaire admits he didn’t sense any distress from his opponent.
“No,” said the former four-weight world champion, “I was hitting him hard in the body, that was my goal – to just go in there and tear him apart.
“But one thing that I did notice was, when I made him miss, he was pulling too much. Putting too much of his velocity in while pulling himself back…
“I mean, I’m no scientist when it comes down to it, but I think a lot of it came from the body shots to making him miss to moving around, maybe cutting weight, whatever it is, I really don’t know.
“When we started to box, we weren’t right in front of him, so when he hit he was pulling back while he was punching so his body wasn’t co-ordinated properly.
“I don’t know exactly what happened, I just wish that he is healthy and that he heals well.”