By Keith Idec
Toshiaki Nishioka is 36 and hasn’t fought in over a year, yet Nonito Donaire knows better than to expect anything other than the type of fight the accomplished Japanese southpaw’s resume suggests he’ll give Donaire Saturday night in Carson, Calif.
“We have been training really hard for this fight,” Donaire, 29, said. “We don’t want to take any chances at all. I believe when we are at this level and at this age, and even if he hasn’t fought in a while, he can be very dangerous.”
Nishioka has fought in the United States just three times in his 18-year pro career and Donaire is slightly favored to win their 12-round fight for his IBF/WBO and Nishioka’s WBC 122-pound crowns. But Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) hasn’t lost since March 2004, when Thailand’s Veeraphol Sahaprom beat him by unanimous decision in a WBC bantamweight championship match in Saitama, Japan.
That 16-fight winning streak has Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs) and his trainer, Robert Garcia, on high alert, especially since Donaire hasn’t exactly looked like his usual pound-for-pound self in successive victories over Argentina’s Omar Narvaez (36-1-2, 19 KOs), Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (22-2-1, 19 KOs) and South Africa’s Jeffrey Mathebula (26-4-2, 14 KOs).
“Nishioka is a great fighter,” Garcia said, “and the best in the division. He is ranked as the best super bantamweight in the world. It’s going to be a really tough fight, but Nonito has been training really hard and he has to come out and perform and do what he’s been doing so far.”
The left-handed Nishioka is not considered a huge puncher, however, and Donaire doesn’t think the fact that he is a southpaw is a huge disadvantage entering their HBO “Boxing After Dark” main event at Home Depot Center (10 p.m. EDT).
“It is not so bad,” Donaire said. “I have sparred with a lot of southpaws over the years. Darchinyan was a notable southpaw and I knocked him out [five years ago]. And [Hernan] Marquez was one of the guys I took apart as well, when I did decide to turn it on. We are mindful he is a southpaw. I try to do the things that are difficult for me against a southpaw and that’s one thing we figured out.”
Donaire doesn’t put much stock, either, in the fact that Nishioka easily defeated Mexico’s Rafael Marquez (41-7, 37 KOs) in his last fight, 54 weeks ago in Las Vegas.
“One thing he will try to do is land the straight left,” Donaire said. “That is difficult to do against me. Aside from that, I haven’t seen [anything on] tape that he can do damage with. He did great against Marquez, but Marquez is a lot slower than me. A lot of those punches won’t land with power with me. But we are very worried and very mindful of that advantage he has.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.