What drives Nonito Donaire in title race
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — It’s the prospect of unifying the world bantamweight championship that’s fueling Nonito Donaire’s mission to top the World Boxing Super Series and the first step is to dethrone WBA titlist Ryan Burnett at the 13,000-seat SSE Hyrdo in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 3.  If Donaire wins, he’ll advance to face WBO ruler Zolani Tete of South Africa and if he prevails again, the end of it all would be to fight for the IBF, WBA, WBO unified crown.  The WBC is not participating in the series as its 118-pound throne is vacant.

Donaire, who turns 36 on Nov. 16, will leave his base camp in Las Vegas on Oct. 24 for Glasgow.  He will be accompanied by his wife Rachel, trainer Brandon Woods and other key members of his team.  The word from Las Vegas is Donaire’s training at the Bones Adams Gym has been on point.  “It’s been amazing,” said Rachel.  “Jun (Donaire) sparred 12 rounds last Monday.”

Dropping down in weight hasn’t been a problem.  Donaire went all the way up to featherweight in winning the world title in a fifth division after claiming belts in the flyweight, superflyweight, bantamweight and superbantamweight ranks.  But he hasn’t fought as a bantamweight since outpointing Omar Narvaez in 2011.  Donaire’s father-in-law Gerry Marcial, who’s his chief of security, said the Filipino Flash’s power will be “awesome” in the bantamweight division.  Donaire was a bantamweight when he stopped Ukraine’s Volodymyr Sydorenko in four and Mexico’s Fernando Montiel in two.  “I’m wondering if Burnett can take Jun’s punch,” said Marcial.    

Donaire said his goal is to become the first Filipino to unify a world championship.  “With this tournament, the goal is now attainable,” he said, quoted by Elliot Worsell in the London weekly magazine Boxing News.  “Entering the tournament gives me an opportunity to showcase my capabilities against the best in this division (which) is stacked with talent and that’s really exciting.  I believe my size, experience and most of all, my power will give me the edge over my opponents.”

Last April, Donaire lost a unanimous 12-round decision to Carl Frampton for the interim WBO featherweight title in Belfast then decided to return to bantamweight.  “Undersized and eventually outclassed, the former champion won the hearts of the Irish fans with a gutsy showing as well as some endearing pre-fight gestures and left a winner even in defeat,” wrote Worsell.  “In choosing to join the bantamweight tournament, Donaire has skipped a weight class, shocked us all and done something that will either work out well for him, now that he’s back among men his own size, in a division he once dominated or end badly.  Time will tell.”

Marcial said Donaire wasn’t at full strength against Frampton but made no excuses.  “We accepted the decision,” he said.  “But not too many know that during training camp, Jun twitched a side muscle and hurt his calf.  He took off one to two weeks of training to recover.  He also adjusted his diet and I thought in the dressing room before the fight, he wasn’t sweating right.  Jun went head-hunting against Frampton because he wanted to end it early, given his condition.  In the 11th round, I thought Frampton would go down after he was trapped in a corner but he got away, ran and Jun just couldn’t catch him.  It will be a different story against Burnett.”

Marcial said Woods’ assignment as full-time trainer has done wonders for Donaire.  “Brandon’s meticulous and his attention to detail is a big positive,” he said.  “He looks at footwork, extension, timing, shoulder movement and the little things that will give you an advantage.  Jun’s learning a lot from him and it will show in the fight.”  If Donaire hurdles Burnett, the next bout against Tete could be staged in Las Vegas or in the Philippines, depending on which promoter lands the deal.

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