MANILA, Philippines - World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight division champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from San Francisco, California yesterday morning following his rousing victory over Mexican veteran boxer Jorge Arce on Sunday in Houston, Texas.
Donaire was all smiles but hardly talked about boxing because he said all he wants to do during his stay here is “rest, rest and rest.”
Fellow passengers, fans, and airport and immigration officials mobbed the Filipino boxing champion upon his arrival at the NAIA before 6 a.m., and from there, his schedule got even tighter.
“First and foremost I wish to thank all of you because without you I won’t have an inspiration, so I wanted to give you all something to smile about and something to be proud of,” Donaire told well-wishers at the NAIA.
Donaire unleashed a cracking left hook that stopped Arce in the third round to retain his title over the weekend, soothing the bruised pride of the entire country that was still reeling from Manny Pacquiao’s shocking loss to rival Juan Manuel Marquez a week earlier.
“I did all I could to get that knockout so everybody can have a good Christmas,” he said.
He said he was “very sleepy” when he appeared in ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda” morning show. He then had a radio interview with Ted Failon over dzMM.
From there he went to another interview with ANC, visited the live noontime program “Showtime,” then did a taped appearance for a couple more sports programs with Bill Velasco and Boom Gonzales.
Donaire has won big fights and other world titles in the past but the reception he received yesterday was nothing like before.
There are more interviews and appearances scheduled for him in the coming days because he is the new toast of the town.
“They’re all over him,” said veteran sportscaster Ronnie Nathanielsz, who was one of those who accompanied Donaire throughout the boxer’s heavy schedule.
The Filipino boxing champion isn’t really complaining but said in between guestings that he feels his “eyes were closing.”
He is booked in a hotel and told Nathanielsz that he would “sleep until tomorrow.”
The boxer did not come with his wife, Rachel, who stayed behind in the United States. There were reports that she is pregnant and Donaire confirmed it.
He spoke to his wife over lunch and talked about the big party they will host for all their friends in their home in Las Vegas.
The couple hasn’t been to their home for some time because he was practically out training and fighting the whole year.
Donaire fought in February, June, October and December, winning all fights against Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka and Arce, whom he knocked out inside three rounds at the Toyota Center.
He is now a hot candidate for the “Fighter of the Year” award, which has been won by Pacquiao three times in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Donaire said after the holidays he will start thinking about his next fight, perhaps in March or April.