Nonito Donaire cemented his status as Irish fight fans all time favourite away fighter yesterday.
The future Hall of Fame fighter recently over took Kiko Martinez as the most respected opponent to come to these shores – and yesterday made sure he stayed well ahead in the race.
‘The Filipino Flash’ surprised Ryan Burnett and his now wife Laura with a lovely message and bottle of champagne on their wedding day.
The former unified world champion and his now wife and former Lord of the Dance star, tied the knot in Greece this week – and while Donaire, former foe of Burnett couldn’t be there, he made his presence felt.
It’s just the kind of thoughtfulness and kindness that makes Donaire an adopted son of Belfast.
The four weight world champion first captured the heart of Irish fight fans when he fought Carl Frampton. The respect shown to ‘The Jackal’ pre and post their clash helped, as did his constant praise for Belfast fight fans, not to mention the fact he became friendly with the Frampton family all saw him secure some Belfast love.
It certainly wasn’t a case of a one night stand though and the relationship with Belfast developed further when he fought Burnett.
The fact he went for dinner with the Belfast bantamweight soon after Burnett picked him as his WBSS foe was another reason for fans to take to him.
However, it was his reaction to his win over the former world champ that saw him overtake the respected Martinez.
Ahead on the scorecards in the quarter final of a competition that could have sealed Burnett all time great Irish status, the Belfast fighter pulled up injured.
It meant Donaire claimed another world title, progressed to the semis and secured another massive pay day, but rather than celebrate he showed genuine compassion toward Burnett and apologized to the injury stricken fighter.
The Philippine fight legend then came to Belfast for Burnett’s return to the ring and backed him over his fellow country man – and all that a day after inviting fans down for a catch up pint in the city centre.