By Christian Schmidt
Eight years ago, Raul Martinez sat ringside and watched fellow San Antonian Gabriel Elizondo battle Glen Donaire in a thrilling six round war that had San Antonio fight fans talking for years. At the time, Martinez had no clue that somewhere down the road that there would be another San Antonian vs. Donaire match up. This time involving himself versus Glen’s little brother Nonito, in another country, and for what every fighter dreams of one day having. Raul Martinez (24-0, 14 KOs) will take on Nonito Donaire (20-1, 13 KOs) for the IBF flyweight belt in a 12 rounder at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Philippines this Saturday night on pay-per-view. Martinez tells Fightnews he is not going to let fighting in the champion’s backyard get in the way of his dream of becoming a world champion.
First off, tell me tell me what you know about your opponent Nonito Donaire.
He is a great champion, I have a lot of respect for him. He is fast, strong, and he is the champ. He has what I want, I want the belt.
On a very interesting note, both you and Nonito Donaire’s father were working Jesus Chavez’s corner on April 4th night at “Lightweight Lightning.” Was that kind of awkward?
Well I wasn’t working the corner, I was ringside. I’m pretty sure he recognized me, but no it wasn’t awkward at all.
You have fought in both the United States and Mexico, what do you think it will be like fighting in the Philippines?
Well with my amateur career I traveled to a lot of countries so I’m used to it. It has been a long time since I’ve fought outside the country. Now that I’m here it’s taking me back to the old days. It feels good being able to travel again.
Have you ever been to the Philippines?
This is my first time here.
What kind of impact do you think Manny Pacqiauo had on boxing in the Philippines?
Well being here, all you hear is Manny when you talk about boxing or hear people talk boxing. They talk Manny, Manny Manny. He’s had a big impact and he is everywhere on billboards out here.
Since Donaire is of Filipino descent, how do you think he will be treated compared to the way you are treated?
So far I feel like I’m at home. They do know of him and I’m sure they will be behind him, but at the same time, like I said, I feel good here and the hospitality is great here. I feel at home.
Have you been watching a lot of tapes of Donaire’s and particularly his fight with Vic Darchinyan?
I’ve seen tape of him, not too much. I don’t like to watch a lot of tape, I get bored. I know the fight will always be different too, I don’t get caught up on the video too much. I just train hard, stick to my plan and hope to put on a good performance that day.
What is your opinion of the weight class your in? It has seemed to pick up some momentum in the public eye with fighters like Fernando Montiel, Gerry Penolosa, Jorge Arce, Brian Viloria, Cristian Mijares, Z Gorres, Jose Navarro, and Vic Darchinyan.
It has always been a tough weight class, and a lot of competition. I think more people will start to see this weight class as a class to see.
Have you been doing anything different by preparing for this fight? Who have you been sparring with?
Nothing different, just different guys, no one in particular.
You used to be with Main Events, now you are with Top Rank, how do you compare the two?
I am more busy now with Top Rank, also more TV time.
In closing, what kind of message do you have for your opponent Nonito Donaire?