CARSON CITY, CALIFORNIA – July 6, 2012
WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire faces the fight of his life against IBF champion Jeffrey Mathebula who towers over him at 5′ 10″ and warns Donaire ” he is coming into waters he has never been before.”
Both champions weighed in below the 122 pound limit although the Manila Standard learned that Donaire had to shed off 1 1/2 pounds hours before the weigh this afternoon with Donaire tipping the scales at 121.4 pounds and the lanky Mathebula 121.8.
A huge crowd gathered cheered Donaire when he stepped on the scales even as Filipinos looking for an heir-apparent to “Fighter of the Decade” have begun to embrace him as the next big star out of the Philippines.
After the weigh-in Donaire told Dyan Castillejo of ABS-CBN who will be at ringside at the Home Depot Center to cover the fight with this reporter over the top-rated Channel 2 and The Filipino Channel that reaches huge audiences in the Middle East that it is the first time he is meeting a much taller opponent which makes it “the biggest challenge I have faced.”
However, Donaire who is a four-division world champion best remembered for his spectacular 5th round knockout of hard-hitting Vic Darchinyan to win the IBF/IBO flyweight title in 2007 and who then won the WBC/WBO bantamweight title with a a sensational second round knockout of Mexican veteran Fernando “Cochulito” Montiel in October 2010 which were chosen as “Knockout of the Year” noted that Mathebula “is taller but I have
the bigger body.”
He attributed the solid physical and muscular make-up to the plyometrics routine of strength and conditioning coach Mike Basel and said “we worked at it all throughout. We did it more consistently. Before I had rest days,this time it was every day.”
In a brief exchange in the face-off Donaire figured “this is the only time I’m going to look up at you. Next time I’ll be looking down at you on the canvas,” clearly indicating he is looking for an impressive performance in the intriguing unification title bout.
Donaire said he is prepared to break Mathebula down by going to the body but said that based on his sparring with similarly tall fighters he could “get him anywhere, body or head” adding that while he “won’t predict the outcome I always long to win by a knockout, so hopefully we can do that.”
Mathebula, his trainer Nick Durandt and well-known international promoter Branco Milenkovic were confident of beating Donaire. Mathebula told us in an almost cocky fashion “I am confident to deliver the goods on Saturday. I have trained for eight weeks with the best sparring partners available including former two-time IBF champion Malcolm Klassen and have done over 300 rounds of sparring especially for this fight because Donaire is a good fighter.”
But the South African bragged,” I have everything. Besides I’m taller and I’m smarter” pointing out that he had fought for 11 years as a super bantamweight while Donaire “is not a natural super bantam, he is like a flyweight.”
He said “I am ready and at the weigh in I feel like I wanted to punch him right there, right now and knock him out in the first round. I felt like I was getting more angry and we could start now. Nonito you’ll be s–t tomorrow. I’ll show you.”
Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera who will cover the fight for Mexican television told the Manila Standard and ABS-CBN ” I think it will be a tough fight for Donaire. People know that he’s the next Manny Pacquiao so he comes to win. Mathebula is very strong, puts pressure but Nonito has the experience and the poise to win the fight. I think its possible for Donaire to win by KO. I think Nonito has to go to the body, just like the Mexicans.”
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said after Timothy Bradley’s split decision win over Pacquiao which was condemned around the world it would be best to “win by KO so as not to rely on the judges.” When asked about the assignment of a South African judge and two American judges (Steve Morros, Lou Morret) Arum said “everybody signed off on South African judge (Deon Dwarte). He is supposed to be very good judge. The fact that he’s South African doesn’t disqualify him. After all Nonito is a Filipino-American and he’s got two American judges.”