By Keith Idec
Nonito Donaire doesn’t appear quite as sure as he once did that he’ll continue moving up in weight.
The former 112-pound, 115-pound and 118-pound champion talked late last year about moving up to featherweight for bigger fights, perhaps even as high as lightweight at some point. As he approaches his 122-pound debut Saturday night, however, Donaire seems comfortable as a super bantamweight.
“The Filipino Flash” feels fresh because, for a welcomed change, he hasn’t had to cut weight the week of a fight. He weighed just 123 pounds Wednesday, two full days before Friday’s weigh-in for his WBO super bantamweight title fight against Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. at Alamodome in San Antonio (HBO; 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
“I never had to lose any weight, so I feel great,” Donaire said. “It’s a new thing for me. I don’t know anything about this weight class yet, how my power will fare. But for now, we’re excited, we’re in tremendous shape and this is actually the first time I’m not cutting weight, so I feel great.”
Donaire (27-1, 18 KOs), of San Leandro, Calif., won’t know how realistic it’ll be to eventually seriously consider moving up again until he learns how powerful he is at 122 pounds. Vazquez is the biggest opponent the 5-foot-6 Donaire will have fought after Saturday, but Vazquez (21-1-1, 18 KOs) was stopped in the 12th round of his lone loss to Mexican veteran Jorge Arce (59-6-2, 45 KOs) on May 7 in Las Vegas.
“I don’t know how my power is,” said Donaire, who expects to fight Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) in his next fight. “I can win against [Vazquez], and if my power is no good then this probably is the limit. But if I can still push the power and knock guys out, we want to keep continuing our journey and challenge the best out there. If we’re confident enough, we’ll take it to the next level at 126.”
While he won’t be certain until he hits Vazquez with his best shots, the 29-year-old Donaire is confident he can carry his vaunted power up to his new weight class.
“I think I’m still going to be as powerful, that I can still get one-punch knockouts,” Donaire said. “I still believe that. When I’m hitting the bag and when I’m hitting the mitts, the power’s still there. I can really feel it. We feel great. I feel confident with my power.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.