(photo credit: Stephanie Trapp, TrappFotos)
Last Friday at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Nonito Donaire fired a pitch high but over the plate on Filipino Heritage Night prior to the hometown Athletics’ game with the Cleveland Indians.
TQBR spoke to Donaire as he left the field on a variety of topics surrounding his compelling Oct. 13 HBO-televised scrap with longtime junior featherweight force Toshiaki Nishioka in Carson, Calif. at the Home Depot Center.
“It is very exciting for me,” Donaire said. “Like Nishioka said, it is not about the titles, it is not about anything, it is about fighting that guy. I believe that I have a lot to prove with Nishioka and we have great respect for each other. ”
Prior to the game, Ring Magazine decided that its 122 pound title will be on the line as it matches the #1 Nishioka against #3 Donaire. #2 Guillermo Rigondeaux was slated to fight Robert Marroquin on the Sept. 15 pay-per-view clash headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. against Sergio Martinez, but a lawsuit was filed by manager Gary Hyde to prevent the fight from happening.
Some people voiced concern with Rigondeaux being bypassed for the vacant title, but considering he will be tied up in some sort of legal battle, it looks as though it was the right decision.
“If the people felt it was worthy enough, who am I to say yes or no?” said Donaire. “I’m just here to fight the best guy and the best guy is Nishioka until I prove that I am better than him.”
Donaire was initially slated to fight a past his best Jorge Arce, but according to Donaire, Arce wanted too much money.
On the undercard, Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado will fight each other at 140 pounds in what can be best described as a fight fan’s fight, a matchup between two rising names who both have something to prove. Donaire shares trainer Robert Garcia with Rios, and is excited for that match-up himself, calling it the Fight of the Year.
Initially, it was announced that Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions were going to counter-program the card with their own junior featherweight match-up between Abner Mares and Anselmo Moreno. Luckily, there are signs that common sense might prevail and they will back off that date, as recent rumors have that fight happening in late November instead.
That four of the five most relevant names in the weight are fighting each other within a month and a half is good for boxing. With the sport on the verge of having a finger in the network programming game for the first time in about a decade, there is no better crop of fighters to try and utilize for those kinds of spots.
One thing about the lower weight divisions is that they can usually be had at a cheaper price. Donaire got $700,000 according to the California State Athletic Commission for his fight with Jeffrey Mathebula earlier this year. The figure for the Nishioka fight has to be close to a million if not more so.
To put things into perspective, Andre Berto got over $900,000 to blow out Freddy Hernandez in less than a round in November 2010.
That Donaire has concerned himself with fighting a guy most boxing fans expected him to stay away from means he should get some credit for being that guy. That he also undergoes around the clock testing for performance enhancing drugs and doesn’t mandate it for his opponents speaks to how sure of himself he is.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Donaire when asked if he would press Nishioka to test prior to their fight. “I’ll invite him to be part of it but if he doesn’t want to because to him it doesn’t matter, I’m fine with that. I’ll just win the fight and do what I need to do to win.”
That line of thinking also makes Nonito Donaire someone I think should be looked up to.
“When I was young, when I was a kid, I got picked on,” continued Donaire. “But I relied on my work ethic, my desire, my dream to be somebody. I know that anybody can do it.”
“Any kids out there that got picked on can do what I did and that is why I take part in the drug testing, to prove that I am clean and I did it all by myself. I trained my ass off and made it happen. Hopefully other fighters will do the same.”
Hopefully other fighters will follow Donaire’s lead on more than just drug testing, that being his desire to fight the best the sport has to offer. It looks as though the 122 pound weight class is where a fair amount of these types reside, all from different backgrounds.
Now that it looks as though they are ready to lock up, it is time to make sure those fights get as much exposure as possible. There could be a real payoff.
Mark Ortega can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed via Twitter at www.twitter.com/MarkEOrtega. Mark also contributes to renowned boxing publications RING Magazine and Boxing Monthly, and is a member of the Boxing Writer’s Association of America and RING Ratings Advisory Panel.