By Nick Giongco
Nonito Donaire, the Filipino puncher who is regarded the heir apparent to Manny Pacquiao, has been running in the morning and reporting to a gym in the afternoon as he revs up for a tough assignment on Aug. 15 at the hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. Donaire is facing Panamanian banger Rafael Concepcion in the main event of a Top Rank show that also features the long-awaited battle between Steven Luevano of the US against Filipino hopeful Bernabe Concepcion for Luevano’s WBO featherweight title. Donaire is leaving the flyweight class and his match with Concepcion will be for the interim WBA super-fly throne.
“So far, so good,” Donaire told Fightnews and Manila Bulletin when asked about the progress of his preparation at the Undisputed Gym in San Carlos, California, a city with a small-town feel situated between the bustling cities of San Francisco and San Jose.
Late this week, Donaire will set up training camp in Oxnard, California, together with trainer Jonathan Penalosa, and pretty soon, Dodie Boy Penalosa, who will reunite with him in Southern California.
Donaire hasn’t fought since overwhelming Raul Martinez of the US last April 19 at the Araneta Coliseum and the 26-year-old Bohol-born fighter expects a much tougher customer in Concepcion, best-known by Filipino fight fans as the conqueror of hot Filipino prospect AJ Banal.
“He’s brave and he’s always on the go and fighters who are like that are difficult to fight,” said Donaire.
Told that the 27-year-old Concepcion’s devil-may-care attitude is tailor-made for his standup-style, Donaire countered that he still “has to look for an opening.”
Donaire currently weighs between 126 to 130 lbs and making the 115-lb limit is the least of his concerns.
“Next week, I will begin sparring but it’ll be just four rounds,” said Donaire, who holds a 21-1–0 win-loss-draw record with 14 knockouts.
Concepcion enters the ring armed with a 13-3-1 mark with eight knockouts and keen on adding another marquee name on his growing list of victims. But Donaire is bent on preventing that from taking place.
“I have been told about one more fight before the year comes to an end,” said Donaire. If everything falls into place on Aug. 15–something Donaire is very much capable of doing–Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum wants him in another big fight “in late-November or December.”