Beware of the Jackal
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2018 - 12:00am

Nonito Donaire Jr. said the other day he knows it’ll be a tough challenge facing Carl Frampton in his Belfast hometown but “this is exactly the kind of fight I live for, going against one of the world’s best in the lion’s den.” Both former world champions will square off at the SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) Arena in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast on April 21.

The lion’s den is an appropriate description of the SSE Arena which has a seating capacity of at least 9,000. The venue used to be known as the Odyssey Arena until SSE, a power company, acquired its naming rights for 10 years. Frampton, who’s called The Jackal, said he can’t wait to bash Donaire in front of his adoring Irish fans.

“The arena holds 9,000,” said Frampton, quoted by John Dennen of Boxing News. “It sounds like double that. You can’t beat it. It’s electric. I think it helps me, it adds something. When the crowd’s on my side and they’re cheering me on, every time I hit this guy, there’s going to be a roar. I just think it helps me but it also affects the opponent. When the crowd’s on my side, completely against him, 100 percent against him, it’s got to affect you mentally. It gives you an extra edge.”

But Donaire is unfazed. It’s his first fight in Europe but the Filipino Flash has displayed his wares in Macau, Puerto Rico, Cebu, Metro Manila and different states across the US. Fighting on hostile territory is nothing new to Donaire. 

The fight may not be shown live on pay-per-view because of the odd hours in Manila. If the bout starts at 8 p.m. in Belfast, it will be 4 a.m. in Manila. Donaire said he isn’t contracted to any Philippine TV network at the moment. The five-division former world titlist was recently in town to witness the turnover of 100 homes to typhoon victims in Lemery, Iloilo, by English philanthropist Greg Secker. Donaire invited Secker, who lives in London, to attend the Belfast fight. He said it would be an inspiration if Secker could watch at ringside. Secker was named one of the world’s top 200 philanthropists last year. Aside from constructing 100 homes in Iloilo, he will provide livelihood opportunities for the families to make them self-sustaining.

Donaire said he’s backing Secker’s initiative in any way he can.  “Greg wants to teach the people how to cultivate the land around them, to use the soil to the max,” he said.  Secker’s agricultural background will come in handy in this respect.  “Now that the homeless families have homes, Greg wants them to be self-sustaining,” he said.  “I’ve never met such an inspiring man.  I’m completely overwhelmed.”

As for the Jackal, Donaire said he can’t wait for the first bell. “I know I’ll have to be the best I can be on fight night,” he said. “Make no mistake, I’m already training like never before. I plan to put on a spectacular show for my fans, his fans and boxing fans in general. When I walk out of the ring victorious, it will have all been worth it.”

Frampton, 30, said Donaire is the biggest name ever to invade Belfast and battle a hometown boy.  “I think both of us are in the same situation, a slip-up here and one of us might never fight for a world title again,” he said. “There’s a lot on the line for both guys. Donaire’s been at the top of four divisions but he was in the same weight division as me for quite a while and he’s someone I’ve always kept an eye on. He’s someone I admire as well and I think he’s a great fighter but I think this is the perfect fight to get me ready for a world title shot in the summer.”

Donaire said he found it disrespectful that Frampton is looking past him in challenging the May 19 winner of the fight between IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby and Josh Warrington. “I’m out to prove them wrong to not give me a chance to win,” said Donaire. “I’m used to that role. I’ve been proving experts wrong for years.” Donaire, 35, has a record of 38-4, with 24 KOs compared to Frampton’s 24-1, with 14 KOs.

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