Donaire confident but wary of African
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 7, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Three-time world champion Nonito Donaire, Jr. said yesterday he’s confident of dethroning WBA “super” featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka of South Africa when they face off at the Cotai Arena in Macau on May 31 but admitted it won’t be a cakewalk.

“Vetyeka’s difficult to fight,” he said. “He’s a little taller than me, a bit awkward. I’ve watched some of his fights on tape and I notice he likes to go lateral then while moving side to side, throws a right or a left unexpectedly. He has good footwork but he’s not hard to hit. I’ll find him.”

Donaire, 31, arrived in Manila from Las Vegas two months ago with wife Rachel and nine-month-old son Jarel. He took a break from training to do commentary for the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight on the Wowow network in Japan with former world titlists Tsuyoshi Hamada and Toshiaki Nishioka, Hall of Fame matchmaker Joe Koizumi and two others last April 12. When Donaire returned to Manila, he flew to Cebu with his family and resumed training with his father Nonito, Sr. at the ALA Gym. Donaire stayed in Cebu for two weeks and went back to Manila last weekend. He will continue training at the Elorde Gym on Sucat until he leaves for Macau on May 24.

“I’m on track to make weight,” said Donaire. “I’m down to 135 now from 145 and there are three weeks to go before the fight to make 126. I know my body. I also know the dangers of dehydration. There’s a big risk of serious injury when you fight dehydrated. I’m eating a lot of sweet potato, fish, chicken and vegetables. I don’t eat steak or rice. I’m not depriving myself of food and at the same time, I’m staying fit.”

In Cebu, Donaire said he sparred about 20 rounds with Cuban lightweight Reymi Castellano Aleye and worked out with California-based Nick Curson of the Speed of Sport training center. Aleye has a 4-0 record and will take on Junmar Dulog in the Donnie Nietes-Moises Fuentes undercard at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday. Curson will be in Donaire’s corner with his father, conditioning coach Mike Bazzel and trainer Robert Garcia.

“My dad is bringing over a Thai sparmate,” said Donaire. “Right now, I’m training at the Elorde Gym from 8 to 11 p.m. That’s because the fight with Vetyeka is scheduled to start about 10:30 p.m. It will be shown in the US on a delayed basis. In the morning, I run. I know how important this fight is. I’m hoping to unify the featherweight championship after I beat Vetyeka but if it’s not a unification fight, I’m moving up to superfeatherweight.”

Donaire denied reports that he is ditching Garcia, the former IBF superfeatherweight champion from Oxnard. “Robert will be in my corner but my dad will be inside the ring in between rounds,” said Donaire. “Robert will be in Macau for (Evgeny) Gradovich any way. Mike (Bazzel) will fly in from California straight to Macau and he’ll also be in my corner. I’ve also asked Nick (Curson) to join my corner. I’m learning a lot from Nick. His expertise is building your explosiveness by working on the muscles that make you explosive through different exercises like ploymetrics. I’ve never done the kind of workouts that Nick puts me through. The ALA Gym brought him in from the US to work with Donnie and I’m lucky to have met him in Cebu.”

Curson used to work with Gavin MacMillan at the Sports Science Lab in San Juan Capistrano, California, then set up his own gym in Redondo Beach. MacMillan was tapped by Freddie Roach as strength and conditioning coach for Ruslan Provodnikov, Miguel Cotto and Zou Shiming. He also worked with Pacquiao for his fight against Brandon Rios. Curson has trained athletes like New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler and mixed martial arts legend B. J. Penn.

Donaire said after his Macau appointment, he will go back to Manila and stay another week before returning to Las Vegas.

A pro since 2012, Vetyeka has a 26-2 record, with 16 KOs. One of his victims is Filipino Eric Barcelona who lost a unanimous 12-round decision in South Africa in 2009. His only losses were to Hozumi Hasegawa on points in a WBC bantamweight title bout in Tokyo in 2007 and to Klaas Mboyane on a split eight-round decision in 2012. Vetyeka is not averse to fighting outside his home country and has won in Mexico, US and Australia.

Donaire, 31, is coming off a ninth round knockout of Vic Darchinyan in Texas last November.

Darchinyan, whom Donaire stopped in the fifth round for the IBF flyweight crown in 2007, will take on WBA featherweight champion Nicholas Walters of Jamaica in the Macau undercard. In some divisions, the WBA recognizes a “super” champion as in Vetkeya’s case and a “regular” champion in Walters.

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