Top Rank matchmaker Carl Moretti believes former flyweight champion Nonito Donaire has the Manny Pacquiao-like talent of transcending weight divisions. “I think you are going to see the emergence of a fighter that has the ability to win titles in multiple weight classes,” says Moretti. “He moved up from 112 and when you see him in the ring he looks like a big 115-pounder.” Donaire, best known for his knockout win over Vic Darchinyan, vacated his IBF flyweight title to face Rafael Concepcion in a clash WBA interim super flyweight title on August 15. Donaire recently spoke to reporters about Concepcion, Darchinyan, Pacquiao and much more.
“He is a tough guy and he has a lot of heart and he can take a punch,” stated Donaire when asked about his opponent. “He is there to do his best and he is the type of fighter, with the heart, that is the most difficult to fight and I will be in for a tough fight against Rafael. Those types of guys are dangerous because they never give up. I am training the best I can to be ready for whatever he comes at me with.
“I have seen a few of Concepcion’s fights on the web. He’s a tough guy with heavy hands. We know that we are prepared for however way this fight may go.”
About the move to 115, Donaire stated, “I have been working with my strength trainer Michael Bazzle for the past two months and my weight is really good right now and my training has been impressive so I am very confident going into the fight.”
As to whether Vic Darchinyan still on his radar following the loss to Joseph Agbeko, Donaire stated, “Darchinyan only has that one punch and if he can’t land it he can’t beat anybody. Agbeko had a game plan and he executed it beautifully. Right now I will go wherever my manager and Top Rank lead me. I don’t know anything about fighting Darchinyan again.”
Carl Moretti added, “You have to continue to beat the drum with the networks to get [Donaire] on TV but if that doesn’t work we continue with Pinoy Power to keep him busy because he has to fight.”
In reference to Manny Pacquiao’s accomplishments in boxing, Donaire commented, “I am more thankful of Pacquiao’s achievement. There is not much the rest of us can do because we are overwhelmed by what he has done. For me, being a part of it and being a Filipino is something that I have always represented that way. I think that showing my talent and being able to share that with an elite fighter is great.
“Everybody will be tied to Pacquiao, he is a great champion and for me it is an honor to be a part of that. I don’t worry about being labeled. For me it is a part that I bring and how I feel when I get into that ring or being the best that I can be like Pacquiao had shown. It’s about having the heart of a champion and being able to do anything. Two years ago I had gone up to 142. I was not in training so that was my walking weight. I know that with proper training I think I can go up to 130 or 135.”
Carl Moretti: “There is no question that you want every fighter to establish his or her own identity. If you look back over the past ten years and at one point it was Tito Trinidad and another point it was Oscar, then Chavez – the next fighter that comes along of that same ethnicity the media naturally say ‘he could be the next…’ so for Nonito, the comparison is going to be there for now.”
You had fought Viloria in the amateurs, would you see fighting him again?
I am looking more to fight the likes of Arce or Montiel. Not that Viloria is a big fight, but for me to continue getting down to 112 after this will be difficult. As my body matures, it is more difficult for me to shed the weight.
When did you move to the US?
In 1993 I think when I was nine years old.
You lived in General Santos City prior to moving to the US?
Manny and me went to the same school, without knowing that we went to the same school. My mom, Imelda, also taught 4th grade at that school. Manny’s right hand guy was one of my mom’s students and he looked after me.
You looked really good in your last fight. Any specific reasons why?
I think it had to do with the flow around me and being in the best possible shape. My team and I trained really hard. I was really confident when I came out and the people around me that supported me. There were 15,000 people in the coliseum and that really motivated me to not move back and move forward.
You met the President following the fight?
It was a great honor. The aura that she gives out was an experience I will never forget for my wife and I. What she has done for the country and what she has tried to do for the country is something you have to acknowledge. She always tries to do her best for the country and take it to another level. I have a lot of respect for her.
Are you training with your dad?
My dad and I had a falling out and I haven’t trained with him since that last fight. I have been training with the Pinalosa brothers for the Martinez fight and this fight. The team right now is charging me to train really hard. They are sharpening everything that my dad has taught me and the foundation that he gave me. I am trained so that every decision that is made in the ring is on me. There was anger and misunderstanding (with my dad) but it will be OK when we get back. When I see him I go up to him and talk, but talking on the phone, we have not done that.
How has boxing evolved for you?
Early in my career I could not get a fight, I was the one that was chosen on two days notice. I never had the choice to make things happen. When I tried to sign with managers in the past I was told that Filipinos were not marketable. I was told that Filipino fighters couldn’t break and egg…but Manny has helped change all of that and we are thankful for everything he has done for the Filipino boxing world.
How are things since you moved to Top Rank?
Top Rank has taken good care of me and has given me everything that I have asked for when needed. For me to move up in weight it will be up to my manager if I would move up to 118 or 122. He has my best interests in mind and I will do what he says.
How is boxing in the Philippines now?
There is so much talent in the Philippines right now. I think it is beneficial for managers and agents to be in the Philippines scouting this talent.
What was it like growing up in the Philippines?
Where I was born we lived in poverty and there were times that were difficult for us. My mom was a teacher but that wasn’t enough. It was hard living in the Philippines. I would help my mom make ice candies and sell them at school so we would have food at the table. There were times when we hardly had any food.
How do you represent your people when you are training 5000 miles away?
It is more of representing myself and being proud of who I am. Being a Filipino fighter and remembering to represent myself in the best possible way as a Filipino and with that I think the support is there.
You are going to make a tribute to the late Filipino leader Aquino?
This is the first time I will be fighting in yellow trunks and that was her color. Of course there will be a little red because of who I am. It is just to pay respect and I have to thank Everlast for making it happen.
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Promoted by Top Rank, “Pinoy Power 2,” will feature TWO world championship fights — Nonito Donaire of General Santos City, Philippines and San Leandro, Calif., battling top-rated contender Rafael Concepcion of Panama City, Panama, for the World Boxing Association (WBA) interim super flyweight title; and World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight champion Steven Luevano of LaPuente, Calif., defending his title against No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger Bernabe Concepcion of Rizal, Philippines. The broadcast will also feature undefeated Top-Five junior welterweight contender Anthony Peterson of Washington, D.C. in a 10-round bout against Luis Arcero and welterweight Mark Melligen of Bacolod City Philippines in a 10-round rumble with Michele Rosales of San Luis, Potosi, Mexico.
Remaining tickets to “Pinoy Power 2,” priced at $200, $100, and $50, can be purchased at www.hardrockhotel.com, www.ticketmaster.com, and at all Ticketmaster outlets.
“Pinoy Power 2” will be produced and distributed by Top Rank, Saturday, August 15, Live on Pay-Per-View, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, with a suggested retail price of $34.95. It will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD.