LAS VEGAS – IBF flyweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. declined the option to cancel his interim WBA superflyweight title fight against an overweight Rafael Concepcion and said it’s a matter of pride for him to battle the Panamanian because he’s dedicating the bout to the late President Cory Aquino at the New Joint, a 4,000-seat facility in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino complex here this morning (Manila time).
Donaire, 26, tipped the scales at the superflyweight limit of 115 pounds at the weigh-in yesterday but Concepcion, 27, checked in at 119 1/2 and refused to try to trim down, agreeing to pay a $13,000 fine or 20 percent of his purse. Half of the fine will go to Donaire and the other half to the Nevada State Athletic Commission whose executive director Keith Kizer supervised the weighing proceedings at the Muse Room of the host hotel.
Kizer gave Donaire the option to cancel the fight but the Filipino Flash wouldn’t hear of it. If he wins, Donaire will annex the interim WBA crown. If he loses, the title will be vacant.
“I don’t care if Concepcion comes in 10 or 20 pounds over the limit,” said Donaire. “He’s a natural superbantamweight and I’m sure his plan all along was to fight me at his optimum weight. He doesn’t care about the title. All he wants is to beat me. I know it’ll be tough to fight someone much bigger. But I’m confident of my speed and power. He’ll be strong at whatever weight he’ll carry to the ring, maybe 130. His problem is he’ll be slower.”
Donaire said he’s ready for Concepcion, no matter what.
“He figured right that I wouldn’t back out of the fight even if he was over the limit,” said Donaire. “I’m a warrior. I don’t back out of a fight. I’m here to fight. This is for President Aquino. This is for our country and our people.”
To honor the late President, Donaire will wear a specially-made yellow Everlast robe with the inscriptions “I. M. O. (in memory of) former President Cory Aquino” on the back. “Aquino” is emblazoned on the back waistband of his yellow trunks.
Donaire brushed off rumors that he was bothered by asthma attacks during his training at the Undisputed Gym in San Carlos, near his Bay Area home in San Mateo.
“I’ve had asthma since I was a boy,” said Donaire. “When I fought (Moruti) Mthalane, I had a slight case of bronchitis and my Las Vegas doctor Richard Vhoy, who used to be with the US Olympic Committee, rediscovered my asthma during a checkup. I use an inhaler for my asthma and you can’t use it at least two weeks before a fight because it will show in the urine test. Definitely, my asthma didn’t bother me in preparing for Concepcion.”
To make the weight, Donaire just had two eggs and a bowl of sweet-sour soup with mixed vegetables thrice a day for three weeks. After making the weight yesterday, he immediately put on five pounds eating lasagne and chicken Alfredo at the Italian restaurant Olive Garden. Then, he relaxed in his fourth floor suite at the Carriage House with his wife Rachel, conditioning coach Mike Bazzel and Dr. Cameron Fort. Late afternoon, Dr. Fort administered active release technique, a movement-based tissue healing procedure to tone his muscles for the weight he’s expected to put on for the fight.
Concepcion, 27, said he couldn’t understand why his body wouldn’t respond to his diet and training program which should’ve brought down his weight to the limit.
“I arrived from Panama in Las Vegas last Sunday and I just had four or five pounds to get rid of,” said Concepcion in Spanish. “But no matter what I did, my weight just wouldn’t go down. The day before the weigh-in, I was 120. Before the weigh-in, I was in a sauna room for 45 minutes and I didn’t lose a single gram. I’m both mentally and physically prepared to fight Donaire. I’ll do to him what I did to (A. J.) Banal. I’ll pressure if he fights from a distance. I’ll backtrack if he comes in. Whatever he does, I’m ready. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get the title. What matters is I’m out to beat Donaire.”
Concepcion said he’s not bothered by the $13,000 fine because “it’s only money.”
Kizer said it’s lucky that fighters don’t come in overweight too often. “But it happens,” he noted. “Sometimes, no matter what you do, the body can’t take off any more weight and I guess that’s the time when you’ve outgrown your weight division. The call was for Donaire to make----whether or not to fight Concepcion, and he decided to get it on.”
The Panamanian has won 10 of his last 11 fights, the only loss a ninth round retirement to Jorge Arce last September. His biggest win was a 10th round stoppage of Banal in Cebu last year. His record is 13-3-1, with eight KOs, compared to Donaire’s 21-1, with 14 KOs.
Two other Filipinos are seeing action in the undercard. Virac’s Bernabe Concepcion takes on WBO featherweight champion Steven Luevano of Los Angeles in a 12-round title bout while Bacolod City’s Mark Jason Melligen faces Mexican veteran Ernesto Zepeda in a superlightweight tenner.
Concepcion and Luevano both weighed in at 125 1/2 pounds. Melligen and Zepeda tipped the scales at 145 each. The fights, organized by Top Rank, will be shown on US pay-per-view at $34.95 a subscription.