Donaire Talks Salido-Garcia, NFC Title Game Pick

By Ryan Maquiñana

Junior featherweight world champion Nonito Donaire is accustomed to fans screaming his name during his fights, but in a role reversal, he’ll be the one losing his voice this weekend.

The fun starts on Saturday night when pal Mikey Garcia, younger brother of his trainer Robert Garcia, challenges for his first world title against featherweight incumbent Orlando Salido (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET/PT).

“Robert’s definitely going to have Mikey ready,” Donaire told “I’ll be watching.”

At only 25, Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs) has already been pegged as a future pound-for-pound talent under the tutelage of his father Eduardo and brother Robert.  With his poise in the pocket and steely poker face, the Police Academy graduate from Oxnard, Calif., has a potent and varied arsenal.

“The jabs and the feints are important when you need to outbox a guy like Salido,” Donaire said.  “Mikey’s got all that.  He’s cold and calculated.  He just has that intensity, and he knows his surroundings no matter where he is in the ring.”

Meanwhile, Salido (39-11-2, 27 KOs), from Ciudad Obregon, Mex., is an irresistible battering ram.  Built from granite and blessed with the punching power of a mule, the 31-year-old “Siri,” owns two stoppage wins over Juan Manuel Lopez and is the toughest foe Garcia has faced.

“Salido’s a guy who goes in there and just doesn’t stop,” Donaire said.  “He has a good overhand right, good bodywork, good hooks, but I don’t think he has the speed to pressure Mikey effectively.” Donaire said.  “I think of when Ricky Hatton pressured Kostya Tszyu, that was a fast type of pressure.  With Salido, he’s the type of guy who breaks you down, but I think Mikey can outbox him.”

Ultimately, Donaire thinks Garcia will emerge the better man at the Madison Square Garden Theater.

“I think using your jab and lateral movement is important with someone who constantly moves forward,” he said.  “When he throws an overhand right, you can move to your left side, slip shots, and use your jab, combinations, whatever.  I think Mikey can take advantage of that, but again, you can analyze all you want, but what makes things exciting is that you still have to do it in the ring.

“Salido’s a tough guy, but I think Mikey’s too smart and too talented.  I think Mikey wins by unanimous decision.”

The following day, Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers will face off against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game (FOX, 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT).  Both football stars trained alongside the champ at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos, Calif., during the preseason.

“Those guys are hard workers,” Donaire said.  “They’re determined, and you saw that last week [against Green Bay].  Gore’s not a big guy, but he pushes the pile around, and Crabtree’s fast.  He’s definitely talented.”

When prodded for his 49ers-Falcons pick, Donaire was unequivocal with his choice—one more akin to a knockout blow than split decision.

“They’re going to kick butt,” he said.  “I’m not good at predicting scores, but I’m just going to say the 49ers are going to win by at least 14 points.”

Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for  He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by ericsantos on 01-19-2013

Keep counting the dirty birds out,people have been doing it all year saying they barely win their games but you know what they are playing for the NFC championship now.This is their year so GO DIRTY BIRDS

Comment by CubanGuyNYC on 01-19-2013

Wasted interview. Nonito's opinions sound good, but is anyone shocked he thinks his trainer's brother is going to win this fight?

Comment by lopez36 on 01-19-2013

cant wait for that niners game tomorrow...hopefully aldon smith has a great game and kaepernick rushes for a lot of yards,would like to see davis get more passes his way and moss

Comment by Cubanborn87 on 01-19-2013

49ers all day

Comment by flint on 01-19-2013

49ers have something else to worry about. crabtree is being investigated for sexual assault. should have been focused on he has to deal with that.

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