Advertisement
Advertisement

Donaire Strikes Note with Fans at New York Workout

By Ryan Songalia

Brooklyn, New York - If there were any concerns that Nonito Donaire Jr.'s popularity would not be unable to transcend his bantamweight classification, one need only take note of the sizable turnout at his public workout at Gleason's Gym on Saturday afternoon.

Nearly 200 fans came out to see the bantamweight world champion Donaire, 28, as he entertained fans at the legendary boxing gym in Brooklyn, N.Y. ahead of his clash with undefeated super flyweight champ Omar Narvaez, 36, this Saturday, October 22 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"It was an amazing time, there was much love out here," said Donaire, after signing autographs and taking pictures with each fan who waited in line, some for more than an hour.

The 26-1 (19 KO) Donaire of San Leandro, Calif. by way of Talibon, Bohol, Philippines felt right at home at Gleason's, which was the Wild Card Gym of the 20th Century, having been the training center for boxing legends Roberto Duran, Jake LaMotta, and at one point Muhammad Ali.

As he took the stage in center ring, Donaire's open workout was half boxing exhibition, half variety show.

Donaire, accompanied by assistant trainer Morris East, who himself was a Filipino boxing champ in the early '90s, showed off the versatility of "The Filipino Flash," throwing hard combinations on the punch mitts from his typical orthodox and southpaw stances with equal faculty. "You're killing me," said an exhausted East after Donaire implored him to keep up with his breakneck punching speed.

If Donaire is at all compromised by his well-publicized difficulties with making weight, it wasn't apparent on Saturday afternoon.

His performance drew high praise from Gleason's head trainer Hector Rocha, who came to prominence in the mid-90s with Arturo Gatti and worked the opposing corner against Donaire when Donaire fought Rafael Concepcion in 2009. Rocha likened Donaire to Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard, who are both considered to be among the top ten greatest boxers in history.

"I think Donaire has everything to be a great boxer. He fights when he has to fight and boxes when he has to box," said Rocha.

"Right now, the public is very occupied with [Manny] Pacquiao, but I think Nonito has more style."

Then Donaire showed off his singing chops, performing the Philippine national anthem for the captive audience, before introducing the two winners of his national anthem singing contest. Both winners Lianah Sta. Ana, 11, and Tiffany Viray, 14, live minutes apart in New Jersey and are friends. The two girls sang their renditions of The Star Spangled Banner and Lupang Hinirang with amazing form. The next time they perform live will be in the middle of the ring on fight night.

There was also Donaire's comedy act, as he asked fans to shout out boxers whose style they wanted him to imitate while shadowboxing, like Roy Jones Jr., Winky Wright and even Ricardo Mayorga. And if that went over observers heads, he also does a mean Robert DeNiro "You talkin' to me?"

Still Donaire, who is the first reigning Filipino boxing champ to fight in New York City since Gabriel "Flash" Elorde made several appearances at The Garden in the 1960s, says he has some weight to drop still, and is looking forward to moving up in weight in his next bout. Whispers around the gym suggest that his next bout could be as early as January.

"Being at 118 is good, but I think I'll feel better at 122," said Donaire, who is dedicating this fight to his wife Rachel's late grandmother, as well as the Keep-A-Breast Foundation, which raises awareness for breast cancer. "The power is there, it came in today. The speed came in today. That's aside from cutting all that weight."

Donaire's opponent Narvaez, 35-0-2 (19 KO) of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a prohibitive underdog, but also a two-division world champion that Donaire says he isn't overlooking despite the opportunities that abound at the higher weight classes.

"I did in the beginning because they were talking about, 'Oh, [Yuriorkis] Gamboa this and JuanMa [Lopez] that,' but I just got my mind set on that I need to get past this guy," said Donaire, who previously held titles at 112 and 115 pounds. "Every guy that comes in that ring is gonna be a tough guy, so you gotta work hard because they're gonna try to gun for your belt, which I've worked for for so many years. I'm not letting it go that easy."

Donaire's next public appearance will be Monday at 4 p.m. EST, as he speaks to students from the The Filipino School of New York & New Jersey about Filipino American History Month at the Jersey City Free Public Library, Greenville Branch Auditorium, located at 1841 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Jersey City, N.J. The event is open to the public.

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City. He can be reached at [email protected]. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Mr. Ryan on 10-18-2011

[QUOTE=JOM'S;11308230]nonito has a lot of fans in the philippines, only thing like you said no real stars around the weight class he will hit it big at FW, but first a stopover 1-3 fights at 122 ...[/QUOTE] The only thing…

Comment by JOM'S on 10-18-2011

[QUOTE=lbson;11306961]Donaire should be at superstar status by now, tha pac fans in the philippines should support their fellow champion. He's number 3 on my p4p list, had to move him past Sergio. Too bad there aren't any superstars around his…

Comment by Ontario Tim on 10-18-2011

nonito wins easily, hope he moves up after this fight. Lots of big fights for this kid comin. would like 2 see him fight arce just because i think jorge would push him deep, even in defeat. gotta love donaire

Comment by JonoYoungP4P on 10-17-2011

another ko win for nonito

Comment by Jerub_Baal on 10-17-2011

Donaire should be at superstar status by now, tha pac fans in the philippines should support their fellow champion. He's number 3 on my p4p list, had to move him past Sergio. Too bad there aren't any superstars around his…

Post a Comment/View More User Comments (23)
Top Headlines Jonathan Gonzelez-Joebert Alvarez To Battle on March 19 Brook: I Wish Khan The Best, Don't Think He Can Beat Canelo Gutknecht To Braehmer: I’m Ready To Avenge My Defeat! Robert Helenius-Johann Duhaupas on April 2 For WBC Silver Belt Evander Holyfield: Anthony Joshua is Best Fighter UK Ever Had Mayweather: Khan Should Have Fought Brook, Not Canelo "Fighting Words" - Canelo vs. Khan: A One-Ring Circus Khan: If I'm Scared of Brook, Then Why Would I Fight Canelo? Guillermo Rigondeaux Wants To Excite in Liverpool, Says Diaz Haye Says The Klitschko Era is Over, Tabs Fury For Repeat Win Austin Trout Willing To Travel, Face Liam Smith in The UK Tyson Fury Hopes Wladimir Klitschko Rematch is Set 'ASAP' Hatton: Canelo Will Be Too Strong and Powerful For Amir Khan Francisco Vargas: Salido Would Be High Risk, a Good Challenge Povetkin: After Wilder I'm Open To Fury, Martin and Klitschko Lucian Bute, Alvarez, Beterbiev Tripleheader on April 2nd? Khan: People Thought De La Hoya Would Destroy Pacquiao Wanheng Menayothin Defends WBC Strap on March 2nd Artur Beterbiev Eyes Ring Return in March or April Pedro Guevara Faces Jether Oliva on February 20 in Sinaloa McGuigan: Khan is Very Ballsy, Canelo Walks Around at 200 Sam O'Maison Stole The Show With Big Knockout Over Hardy Cortez Feels Canelo-Golovkin is More Likely For 2017 Showtime Championship Boxing 30: Hopes for the Year Ahead Tyson Fury Hopes To Head Up New Heavyweight Era Amir Khan Admits Canelo's Size Initially Concerned Him Daily Bread Mailbag: Kovalev, Golovkin, Canelo-Khan, More Frank Warren: Boxing Must Do More For Retired Fighters Johann Duhaupas Returns, Dominates Nascimento Over Ten Khan Says Shock Value Makes '50-50' Fight With Canelo Bigger Kovalev's Coach: If Ward Can't Hurt Sergey, He's in Trouble! Jamel Herring Looking To Step Things Up in 2016 Luis Ortiz Stays Patient, Waiting For Opponent To Get Finalized Sulaiman Warns Canelo That He Can't Make Mistakes With Khan Ocampo Blasts Out Navarro In Five; Cayetano Wins Alberto Machado, Abner Cotto KO Winners In Puerto Rico Kelly Pavlik Charged, Facing 180 Days in Air Rifle Shooting Photos: Deontay Wilder, Shaquille O'Neal Go Face To Face Jhonny Gonzalez Says Abner Mares Ran From Rematch Golovkin's Coach Doubts Canelo Fight Will Happen in 2016
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement