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Donaire on Growing Up Gatti, Top Rank Bond, Philosophy

By Ryan Maquiñana

Before heading to New York City for the first and last title defense of his WBC/WBO bantamweight titles against Omar Narvaez (35-0-2, 19 KOs) this Saturday, Nonito Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) gave Northern California cable TV giant Comcast SportsNet Bay Area an extended 10-minute interview.  Here are some of the highlights:

ON HEADLINING IN NEW YORK CITY:

“When I was 10, I didn’t know I’d be boxing, much less fighting in a main event one day in New York City, and I’m just so thankful for everything and all the support that’s gotten me here.  I remember watching an Arturo Gatti fight with my dad (Nonito Sr.), and he asked me, ‘Jun (Junior), do you want to box?’  For some reason he asked me while Gatti was all bloodied up and the other guy was all bloodied up, and I was shaking in my boots.  I said, ‘Heck no.’

“I didn’t want to get hit.  I was always afraid of everything.  I was always afraid of everything because I was always getting picked on [growing up].  They say God has a great sense of humor, because he led me here...what I aim to do is inspire.  I was just some kid who didn’t believe in himself.  Being outside, I look at myself and I can’t believe that I’m watching myself on TV.”

ON THE 2009 DECISION WIN OVER RAFAEL CONCEPCION, THE LAST MAN TO TAKE DONAIRE THE DISTANCE IN TEN TRIES (CONCEPCION WEIGHED IN 4.5 POUNDS OVER THE LIMIT):

“I had some issues during that fight.  I’m glad that everything’s O.K. now with my family, but it was the first time I fought without my father in my corner.  I really didn’t look that great, but I still won because I had the mentality that my life depended on how I performed.”

ON HIS PRE-FIGHT ROUTINE IN GENERAL:

“I envision the fight [in terms of] taking the guy out.  I look at everything, even how I’m breathing properly. My team is awesome, but when it’s time, I don’t see anyone around me at all.  I just focus on getting everything out of me...I look at it like being in a gladiator ring, and you don’t know when your life is going to be taken from you.  That’s why I got to be in tip-top shape, so my mind is focused and so that no one cuts my head off.”

ON REPAIRING HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH TOP RANK AFTER THE LEGAL BATTLE WITH GOLDEN BOY:

“My wife [Rachel] had stepped up and I was telling her, ‘This is what I want in boxing,’ but as for me, and I had no stomach to come in and talk to these people to do this or do that.  I had to use somebody who was stronger with words and more firm in believing in me…When I had Rachel, it was my way as far as how I wanted boxing to be.  I’m glad it happened, and now the relationship is better.”

ON TOP RANK MOVING THE ORIGINAL DATE FROM NOV. 5 TO OCT. 22 TO ACCOMMODATE HIS UPCOMING CHURCH WEDDING WITH WIFE RACHEL:

“I was definitely happy when they moved the fight date.  My family, especially my wife, appreciated them taking the extra effort to do that.”

ON SUPPORT FROM FRIEND ROBERT GUERRERO:

“I had a Tweet from Robert Guerrero the other day stating that everybody’s going to be gunning for you, so you need to work hard to stay on top.  That meant a lot to me, because he’s a great friend…and it reminded me now that I’m on top and everyone’s going to try to gun for me.”

ON MAKING 118 POUNDS FOR THE LAST TIME (DONAIRE WEIGHED IN AT 116.5 POUNDS AFTER STARTING 12 WEEKS AGO AT 145):

“The more that I age, the more difficult it is to take out the weight.  With the training with [sprint coach] Remi [Korchemny] and all those guys with [strength coach Mike] ‘Bazz’ [Bazzel], I’ve created more muscle mass…and then being off for several months has created a lot of strain on my body…but I have faith in my guys and my training ethic.”

ON TAKING PED FROM VICTOR CONTE:

“Not that PED. (Laughs)  Victor has a new product called Performance Energy Drink.  We thought it would be funny to name it that.  I drink it during my workouts, and I don’t crash.”

ON NARVAEZ MOVING UP IN WEIGHT AND STAYING FOCUSED:

“I have no doubt Narvaez’s power will carry over to 118 [pounds] because I was able to bring my power from 112 to 115 to 118.  We never look beyond the guys we’re fighting now.  Everyone’s talking about [1]22 and [1]26 guys, but we’re focusing on Narvaez.”

ON MATCHING UP WITH NARVAEZ:

“One thing I have an advantage on is speed, as well as the power and the height, so we definitely want to take advantage of our height and take away his jab.  Of course, being a counterpuncher, we want to take advantage of everything and any holes we see.”

ON HOW HE APPROACHES HIS NEWFOUND FAME:

“It’s a different persona.  It’s a different guy.  He believes in everything he had worked for.  He believes that he deserves everything as in all the acclaim and what people are raving about in Nonito Donaire.  But for me being outside looking in, that’s crazy.  It’s all a blessing.”

Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel.  E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by richardt on 10-23-2011

Bad writing!! "Growing up Gatti"??? Did their souls get switched????

Comment by Alx. on 10-22-2011

great interview

Comment by paulf on 10-22-2011

He's a great guy that's worked hard and deserves to be champ. Like Martinez and Pacquiao, (or at least like Pacquiao used to) he's building his fanbase with very little ethnic/nationalistic backing, just great performance after great performance. Looking forward…

Post a Comment/View More User Comments (3)
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