In every young fighter’s career, a moment arrives when he must test himself against a big-time star. For featherweight contender Jesse Magdaleno, that moment arrives this weekend. On the undercard for Manny Pacquiao’s clash with Jessie Vargas, Magdaleno will face four-division world champion Nonito Donaire.
Donaire’s WBO super bantamweight belt will be on the line, but that title is less important for Magdaleno than the potential prestige of adding a name like Donaire’s to his resume. Donaire is no longer the high-profile star that he once was, but he is future Hall of Famer. He remains one of the best fighters in the 122-pound division.
Donaire is one of this century’s most exciting fighters. He has won titles from flyweight to featherweight, recording highlight reel knockouts of major stars like Vic Darchinyan and Fernando Montiel. At one time he was viewed as a top-five, pound-for-pound star, though he has long since tumbled from that lofty stature. In April 2013, he was thoroughly out-boxed by Guillermo Rigondeaux. In October 2014, he was smashed by Nicholas Walters in six rounds.
After the loss to Walters, Donaire dropped back to 122 pounds, a more natural weight for him. He has won four straight since.
He should be a formidable test for Magdaleno. An impressive performance against Donaire still has a lot of meaning.
Magdaleno is the younger brother of lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno and older brother of undefeated lightweight prospect Marco Magdaleno. Like both of his brothers, he is a southpaw. Magdaleno had a nice amateur career, winning the U.S. Nationals and Golden Gloves championships in 2009. Now 24, he has compiled a record of 23-0 with 17 knockouts. He has beaten some recognizable names, like Raul Hirales and Roberto Castenada.
On Saturday, we should find out if Magdaleno truly belongs among the division’s elite. Donaire, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to demonstrate that he is still a rare talent.