Nonito Donaire Jr. back to Belfast
Donaire, 35, is one of eight fighters picked to participate in a knockout format to determine the undisputed world bantamweight champion in the second season of the World Super Series of Boxing.

Nonito Donaire Jr. back to Belfast

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 2, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Nonito Donaire, Jr. returns to Belfast, Northern Ireland, for a shot at the WBA unified bantamweight title held by Ryan Burnett, tentatively in September, and is now training under Brandon Woods at Bones Adams’ gym in Las Vegas.

Donaire, 35, is one of eight fighters picked to participate in a knockout format to determine the undisputed world bantamweight champion in the second season of the World Super Series of Boxing. The pairings were announced at the Rossiya Theater in Moscow last July 20. The first season, which started last year, involved the cruiserweight and supermiddleweight divisions. The second season will feature the bantamweight and lightwelterweight classes.

Donaire said it’s 90 percent sure that his fight will be held in Belfast, Burnett’s hometown. He won the hearts of Irish fans with his classy behavior before, during and after his loss to Carl Frampton on points for the interim WBO featherweight crown in the Northern Ireland capital last April. 

Dropping down from featherweight to bantamweight won’t be problem, said Donaire, as he hopes to revive some of his most exciting wins while campaigning in the 118-pound division. The Super Series is a joint venture of Sauerland Promotions and Ringstar Sports CEO Richard Shaefer who represents Donaire.

In Moscow, Donaire and his wife Rachel met up with Burnett and his girlfriend Lara over dinner. As the top pick of the Super Series pool, Burnett chose Donaire as his opponent. The other pairings are WBO champion Zolani Tete against Russia’s Mikhail Aloyan, three-division world titlist Naoya Inoue of Japan against Juan Carlos Payano of the Dominican Republic and IBF ruler Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico against Australia’s Jason Moloney.

“It’s refreshing that we both agree this is a sport,” said Donaire. “This isn’t street fighting. There’s no need to trash talk and be a way that doesn’t align to us. Make no mistake, inside the ropes, we’ll both try to take each other’s head off. But respect is something lacking in a sport with fools trying to make themselves relevant for the wrong reason. We need to bring back integrity and respect as a basic tenet of what boxing was known for as a gentleman’s sport and stop doing things for ‘likes’ and start doing things that we would be proud of as an example for our kids and the young generation.”

Donaire’s wife Rachel said training is going full-blast. “Jun has been training ever since the Frampton fight because I told him I would try to get him into the Super Series,” she said. “We are focusing on regaining his speed at this weight. It’ll be a bit easier because he’s lighter. I think Burnett will try to prove he has a bit of everything in front of Jun but the winner will be who is going to be able to adjust and adapt faster.”

Burnett, 26, has a 19-0 record, with 9 KOs, compared to Donaire’s mark of 38-5, with 24 KOs. As an amateur, Burnett compiled a 94-4 record and one of his victims was Filipino Mark Anthony Barriga whom he outpointed, 6-4, in the lightflyweight quarterfinals of the World Youth Championships in Baku in 2010. Burnett used to train under former world champion Ricky Hatton and works in the same gym as Frampton. Donaire said the date and exact venue of the fight will still be determined. “Nothing’s confirmed at the moment but the fight is definitely on,” he said. “Burnett is more of a boxer so I’ve got to be prepared to match his skills and speed.”

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