By Francisco Salazar
Photos: Chris Farina / Top Rank
Although Nonito Donaire is considered one of the best fighters at 122 pounds today, his goal is to one day conquer the division. That will be a tall order as Guillermo Rigondeaux, Toshiaki Nishioka, Abner Mares, Jorge Arce, and other talented super bantamweights have the same lofty goal. While the media and fight fans play matchmaker with the aforementioned fighters, Jeffrey Mathebula is sort of left out of the mix. Although he has a world title belt, he is unknown to the casual boxing fans outside his native South Africa. However, he will have an opportunity tonight to pull off a considerable upset and become a unified world champion.
Donaire and Mathebula square off in a 12 round bout for their respective titles at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. Preceding the Donaire-Mathebula bout will be a scheduled 10 round bout between super middleweights Kelly Pavlik and Will Rosinsky. Both bouts will be televised on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark,” starting at 10PM ET/PT.
Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs) has earned the accolades of being considered one of the best in boxing. He has won world title belts in four weight classes, has won his last 27 bouts in a row, and is at the peak of his career.
He is seeking out the best competition, welcoming a bout with Rigondeaux in the not to distant future.
“I definitely welcome a bout with Guillermo,” said Donaire of his fellow Top Rank fighter. “I want to fight the best out there. I want to clean up and conquer the division.”
But do not think that Donaire is overlooking Mathebula. The popular Filipino fighter considers the fighter from Brakpan, located east of Johannesburg, every bit the worthy title holder that he is.
“I’m very excited to fight a guy who is a challenge,” said Donaire, who trained the last two weeks in Oxnard, where his trainer Robert Garcia is based out of. “He may not be known, but he’s an incredible fighter.”
Mathebula (26-3-2, 14 KOs) represented South Africa in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He is tall for his weight class, measuring at five feet 11 inches tall. He is trained by acclaimed Nick Durandt and has won his last three bouts in a row.
In his last bout in March, Mathebula won a hard-fought 12 round split decision over Takalani Ndlovu.
Although Mathebula will be fighting for the second time outside his native country on Saturday night, he is eager to make the most of his opportunity and place himself in the top five of the division.
“We work on the simple things in training. We’re going to let him come to us and see what he does. We want to catch him at certain times. This is the first time that he is fighting a legitimate super bantamweight. I’m ready to fight him.”
In the co-feature bout, it will be Kelly Pavlik hoping to solidify himself as a legitimate contender at 168 pounds against another fighter hoping to pull off the upset in Will Rosinsky.
Ironically, both fighters last fought less than a month ago.
Pavlik (39-2, 34 KOs) has been working with Robert Garcia since mid-January, traveling to Oxnard and training most afternoons in the gym. He has won his last two bouts with Garcia in his corner, including his technical knockout after the seventh round over a tough, but outgunned Scott Sigmon.
Despite the quick turnaround from the Sigmon fight, Pavlik seized upon the opportunity to fight on Saturday, especially since the fight is on HBO.
“This is a golden opportunity for me,” said the Youngstown, OH native. “It is not a big deal the turnaround. We were back in the gym the following week.”
“We were able to get rounds in against Sigmon. Throughout my time spent in Oxnard, we’ve seen a lot of progress during training camp. We’ve worked on bending my knees to punch, working on throwing double hooks. The key to my progress has been repetition.”
Even before his last fight, a victory over Aaron Pryor Jr. on June 14th, Rosinsky has worn a shirt that reads, ‘Who is Will Rosinsky?’
Aside from being a professional prizefighter for almost four years, Rosinsky is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in the New York City borough of Queens, where he also lives.
“I’m ready to make a lot of noise,” said Rosinsky, who has won his last two bouts since his 10 round unanimous decision loss to Edwin Rodriguez in October. “I respect Pavlik’s power, but I don’t fear it. I’m going to fight all three minutes of every round for this fight. I’m definitely physically prepared for this fight.”
Top Rank has seven scheduled non-televised undercard bouts. Headlining the non-televised card is a 10 round bout between unbeaten Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs) of nearby Glendale and Ryan Davis (24-9-3, 9 KOs).
Tickets to the Top Rank card are priced at $100, $50, and $25. Tickets could be purchased at the Home Depot Center box office or through Ticketmaster outlets.
Doors to the venue are scheduled to open at 4:30PM, with first bell scheduled for 5:00PM.