USA: A chat with Nonito Donaire, Jr. – 19th issue of PWD

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FilAm boxing sensation insists he’s a Filipino first

Donaire: I’ll try to make a knockout!

Words and photo by: Dionesio C. Grava

Nonito Donaire, Jr., aka Filipino Flash and touted as Pacquiao’s heir apparent, declared that he is not in the business of making predictions “but I’ll try to make a knockout” to make people happy.

The 29-year old Boholano was at the Fortune Gym in Sunset Blvd.Wednesday morning to answer questions regarding his fight to retain the IBF Super Bantamweight title against Jeffrey “Mongoose” Mathebula on July 7 at the Home Depot Center in Carson. They will headline a doubleheader event with Ohio champ Kelly Pavlik and Will Rosinsky of New York in the undercard.

At 5 feet ten inches, the South African Mathebula is taller than Donaire by three inches. He had held the IBF Super Batamweight (2012-), the WBC International Featherweight (2005-08) and the IBO
Intercontinental Super Bantamweight (2003) titles.

On the other hand Donaire is the current WBO Super Bantamweight title holder. He used to be the WBC Bantamweight, WBO Bantamweight, and IBF Flyweight champion. Donaire had a 28-1, 18 KOs fight record vs. Mathebula’s 26-3-2, 14 KOs. Donaire is reportedly a switch-hitter with the ability to fight either southpaw or orthodox. He is also rated by the Ring as the number four pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

Asked to assess his Saturday opponent, Donaire said that he had seen Mathebula fight only once. That was between him and former IBF champion Takalani Ndlovu. A good fight, he said, and Mathebula a good
fighter. He had also seen the guy’s weaknesses but a tall guy nonetheless who used his jabs very well “and that I’ve got to figure out,” he added.

Donaire said that he is very excited fighting a guy who will pose a challenge to him. People might not be familiar with Mathebula but that’s not surprising because nobody knows him (Donaire), too, when he was just starting. Mathebula is an incredible fighter, he assured.

Donaire: “I want to show that I am a full-pledged fighter. The one I’m fighting is a tough guy and I’m going to take him up. He’s the tallest guy I’ve ever fought. We’re here to prove that no matter the obstacles are, we’re able to take it down. I’m very ready. I’m confident.”

He added that he is pretty good. He worked hard and is comfortable with his weight class. Like his other fights, he always go after the opponent and do whatever he needs to do. Then addressing no one, he said: “I’m not going to sweet talk. If you want to make things happen lets make things happen. I’m here to prove I’m better than you guys. Fighters fight; this is what we do. Don’t run.”

Although born in Talibon, Bohol, Nonito grew up as a child in General Santos City, South Cotabato, and was even a schoolmate of the now boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. Asked about the tag “next Pacquiao” and whether he expects to take Pacquiao’s place when the latter retires, Nonito replied: “You know, I’m just thankful of all the fans around the world. The Filipino community has been incredible with their support and I’m thankful for that, you know, but I’m not here to take on anybody else job. I’m here to fight and see what God has given me… see the proof of what my system is in the boxing world.”

The beginning

The young Donaire was eleven when he joined his father, a former amateur boxer, in Los Angeles and later moved with him to the Bay Area. It was said that as a child Nonito was frail and asthmatic. On
November 2, 2008, he was reported to have an asthma attack while sparring in preparation of a fight.

Asked whether he is still bothered by the ailment today, Nonito told PinoyWatchdog: “I’m good with my asthma. When I’m training it disappears. I don’t drink anymore. I used to drink a lot. It used to
bother me when I tone down the training. So I’m keeping up my training and my asthma is nothing to me.”

Nonito was 11 when his father took him to a boxing gym to get him off the streets. When PinoyWatchdog asked about it, he recalled: “I did it because I did it. It was just one the family did and I did it. But now I enjoy, I love it. I love being here.”

He said that when he and his dad separated ways because the latter exercised too much control it was choking him, he decided to quit boxing. However, he returned to boxing later and that was when he
realized he love the sport. “I learned that being your own man is something that makes you happier,” he said.

Does he dread being hit? His response: “It’s a normal thing now. I don’t mind getting hit now. Back then I mind it, you know, but now I’m a full-pledged fighter, a full-pledged warrior. I don’t mind bleeding a little bit. I don’t mind hurting a little bit.”

There is also the part where fighters have to entertain the crowd. It’s part of their career, he said, and the crowd want to see more of it. He is going to do it for friends and for fans. The whole world must see that there are two guys out there willing to take it all the way.

It may be noted here that prior to the talk with Donaire, this reporter had a chat with Top Rank’s Bob Arum, promoter of the coming Donaire-Mathebula fight. At one point Arum mentioned that Donaire is
more American than Filipino. The matter was brought to the attention of the FilAm boxer. And we sensed he was a bit touchy in responding: “It doesn’t matter whether American or Filipino. I know my language and know who I am. I love my country and it doesn’t matter if I’m more American or more Filipino. When it comes to that we’re all Filipinos, you know, as long as you believe and you carry the flag you’re Filipino. That’s who I am.”

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