By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Nonito Donaire’s itinerary since he arrived in New York last weekend included a trip to the Jersey City Public Library to celebrate Filipino-American History Month, a reception in his honor at the Philippines Consulate in New York and a photo shoot atop the Empire State Building.
And the majority of questions he has answered have been about potential opponents, not Omar Narvaez, his foe Saturday night in an HBO main event in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. But his trainer, Robert Garcia, has tried to re-assure anyone that’s concerned about the heavily favored Donaire overlooking the unbeaten two-division champion from Argentina.
His fighter’s focus, Garcia promised, is squarely on beating Narvaez, not the grand plans his handlers have for “The Filipino Flash.”
“This is Nonito’s first time fighting in New York, so it’s big for him,” Garcia said. “But we’ve got a great opponent. He’s an undefeated fighter, a champion that, if I’m not mistaken, broke a record in Argentina by defending his [titles] 17 or 18 times. So we can’t take him lightly. We’ve got to come out with a good game plan.”
Narvaez (35-0-2, 19 KOs) made 16 defenses of the WBO flyweight title he won in July 2002, before moving up to win the WBO super flyweight title in May 2010. He defended that 115-pound crown three times before deciding to move up to bantamweight to challenge Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) in a 12-round fight for Donaire’s WBC and WBO bantamweight titles.
Narvaez is 36, but he’s a southpaw and has won 21 straight fights since settling for a draw with Italy’s Andrea Sarritzu (32-4-4, 12 KOs) in August 2003.
“We can’t take this fight lightly,” Garcia said, “because we want to get those big fights that Bob Arum [Donaire’s promoter] could be talking about or that Cameron Dunkin [Donaire’s manager] has in mind.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.