Donaire arrives, sets up camp
By Joaquin Henson Updated Monday March 24, 2014 - 12:00am

Nonito Donaire Jr. (AP photo)

MANILA, Philippines - Former three-time world boxing champion Nonito Donaire, Jr. arrives from Las Vegas this morning to set up training camp here in preparation for his fight against WBA/IBO featherweight titlist Simpiwe (V12) Vetyeka of South Africa at the Cotai Arena in the Venetian Resort Macau on May 31.

Donaire told The Star the other day he will fly in with wife Rachel, their 8-month-old son Jarel and a few friends. They will stay at their home in Alabang Hills Village. Donaire will start working out at the Elorde Gym in Sucat next week. His father-trainer Nonito Sr., however, will join the camp in two weeks after a work assignment in Mexico.

Donaire, 31, will take a brief break from camp and appear as a commentator on Wowow TV in Tokyo for the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley bout on April 12. A Japanese translator will facilitate Donaire's commentary. Right after Pacquiao's fight, Donaire will head back to Manila and resume training for Vetyeka. Donaire was recently in Tokyo to attend his godfather Dr. Osamu Kato's funeral. He is wildly popular in Japan. "Someday, I hope to fight in Japan," said Donaire. "I have a lot of close Japanese friends. It would be an honor to fight in Japan. I'd be very happy to fight there."

Donaire said former world superfeatherweight champion Robert Garcia is not sure to work his corner in Macau. "At the moment, Robert is busy training (Marcos) Maidana for his fight against (Floyd) Mayweather on May 3," said Donaire in an overseas telephone interview. "Robert has other commitments so it's not certain if he'll have the time to work with me for this fight. But I'm comfortable with my dad. Nobody knows me better than Papang. We've been together from the start. We were together when I won the WBC flyweight title in 2007. My strength and conditioning coach (Mike Bazzel) will also not be around but we'll be in constant communication through skype."

Donaire said his father will assemble a gang of sparring partners to get him ready for Vetyeka. "We're not bringing over any sparring partner from the US," he said. "There are a lot of tough Filipino featherweights whom Papang will line up for sparring so that's not a concern. I'm confident we'll get competitive sparring done."

Donaire is set to attend the Elorde Awards Night at the Sofitel Hotel tomorrow. He will be honored as one of four Filipinos who were world champions last year. The others are WBO minimumweight titlist Merlito Sabillo, WBO lightflyweight ruler Donnie Nietes and the IBF lightflyweight king Johnriel Casimero. Donaire lost his WBO superbantamweight belt to Guillermo Rigondeaux in a WBO/WBA unification duel in New York City last April.

Donaire said he's feeling good and comfortable fighting in the featherweight division. It will only be his second outing in the 126-pound category after knocking out Vic Darchinyan in Corpus Christi, Texas, last November. "I'm getting bigger so my body is evolving," he said. "Two months of training should be just right for Vetyeka. It doesn't matter if Vetyeka has already started training. What matter is when the fight begins, I'm 100 percent ready to go."

Donaire said he's excited and highly motivated to wrest the crown from Vetyeka. "The way Top Rank has put together the card for Macau, it'll be a big featherweight event with three world title fights," he said. "Winners will move on to face off. That's never been done before so I'm excited to participate in this series."

Aside from the Donaire-Vetyeka bout, Top Rank has lined up on the same card the WBA featherweight championship fight between defending titleholder Nicholas Walters of Jamaica and challenger Alejandro Perez and the IBF featherweight championship match between defending titlist Evgeny Gradovich of Russia and a challenger to be named later. Both Walters, 28, and Gradovich, 27, are unbeaten. Walters has a 23-0 record, with 19 KOs, while Gradovich's mark is 18-0, with 9 KOs. Donaire's slate is 32-2, with 21 KOs and Vetkeya's card is 26-2, with 16 KOs.

Donaire promised to unveil "a different me" in Macau. "Against Darchinyan, I really didn't get a chance to prepare as much as I wanted so that I couldn't figure out if I wanted to box the guy or knock him out early," he said. "My head was telling me to go for the knockout but my legs were telling me to box. I admit I was a little confused out there. But now, I've got that sorted out with my dad. I know Vetyeka is very skilled and very smart. I'll do what's necessary to win. Maybe, it'll mean being slick, boxing from a distance. Maybe, it'll mean putting pressure on Vetyeka. I'll do what has to be done to win the title. I'll handle it my way, the right way."

Donaire said losing isn't an option. "This fight puts me in the situation where I want to be," he said. "I want to be on top. I realize this is a big challenge. Vetkeya's a good fighter and I respect him. But I've got a job to do. I'm working hard to get ready. I'm excited to fight in Macau. I know a lot of Filipinos will come out to watch me fight. I won't disappoint them."

Vetyeka, 33, is cut in the same mold as two South Africans whom Donaire has defeated. Moruti Mthalane and Jeffrey Mathebula were once Vetyeka's stablemates under manager Nick Durandt. Donaire stopped Mthalane on a bad cut over the eye in 2008 and outpointed Mathebula after scoring a knockdown in the fourth round in 2012. Donaire said he's not taking Vetyeka lightly, calling him the toughest in the featherweight division today.

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