Freeman Cebu Sports

Donaire plays down lofty billing

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Five-division world champion Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire, Jr. has been touted as the new standard-bearer of Philippine boxing after the retirement of the great Manny Pacquiao.

Donaire proved his worth with a spectacular third round knockout of Hungarian contender Zsolt "Mr. Lefthook" Bedak to retain his WBO super bantamweight title during the historic "The Time Has Come" fightcard witnessed by a record crowd of 25,000 at the Cebu City Sports Center last Saturday night.

But Donaire humbly plays down such lofty billing, saying that there are a lot of talents out there who are capable of bearing the torch of one of the most loved sports by the Filipinos.

"I don't think so," Donaire answered quickly when asked if he's comfortable with the tag as flag-bearer of Phl boxing now that Pacquiao is in retirement mode."There's a lot of talents out there. It's just a matter of support."

The 32-year-old Donaire made special mention of two-division world champion Donnie "Ahas' Nietes and the undefeated WBO Youth Intercontinental junior featherweight titlist "Prince' Albert Pagara.

"You know there is still Donnie (Nietes), he's the longest reigning Filipino world boxing champion right now, and Albert Pagara. They too are capable of carrying the torch of Philippine boxing," said Donaire. "As for me, I will just continue to give my best

to bring more honor and glory to my fellow countrymen."

As to who he wants to fight next, Donaire said he doesn't care although he earlier called out IBF champion Carl Framton and Guillermo  Rigondeaux, who defeated him a unification bout three years ago.

"I'm always willing to fight anybody. There are big names out there like Frampton, Rigondeaux and even Jessie Magdaleno, but it's Top Rank's call. As to who I want to fight next, it doesn't matter. I want to fight the best out there. If they think they're the best, then come inside the ring. I'm waiting for you."

For the meantime, Donaire will savor first the sweet taste of triumph with a well-deserved vacation in his hometown Bohol. (FREEMAN)


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