By Chris Robinson
It’s about that time again for Nonito Donaire.
The holder of the IBF and WBO junior featherweight belts, the 29-year old Donaire will climb into the ring this weekend as he looks to defend his straps against Japan’s formidable Toshiaki Nishioka, former WBC champion himself. HBO will televise the double header from the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, with a mouth-watering co-feature going down at 140 pounds between Mike Alvarado and former lightweight terror Brandon Rios.
Speaking to the assembled press inside of the Manhattan Beach Marriott, Donaire (29-1, 18 KO's) seemed completely focused and at peace before yet another pivotal career moment this Saturday night.
I asked the "Filipino Flash", who will be facing his seventh consecutive current or former world champion in Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KO's), if perhaps the boxing media hasn’t given him the kind of respect he feels he deserves.
“I believe so, but that’s the expectation of them knowing I am one of the top pound-for-pound fighters,” stated Donaire. “They expect that power, that speed, everything that they’ve seen. But it’s not something I worry about, because I know that all the fights are leading me up to a better position, being a better fighter, a much-more experienced fighter.”
There is no shortage of viable options at 122 pounds for Donaire following the Nishioka contest, with WBA champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and WBC titlist Abner Mares often discussed amongst boxing crowds.
For Donaire, however, Nishioka is the only man who presents the kind of threat he is looking for at this very moment.
“He is number one in the division,” Donaire said sharply of Nishioka. “What else can you ask for? That’s where I want to be, that's what I want, and that’s the guy I acknowledge. The other guys I don’t acknowledge because they need to prove themselves to me.
“This guy has proven himself for years, he’s knocked world champions out,” Donaire continued. “What else can I say about that guy? He’s the guy that I feel will give me that challenge.”
And while Nishioka is a bit of an enigma to some in the boxing world, Donaire actually had a very intimate view of his talents a year ago when the southpaw from Tokyo won a twelve-round decision over Rafael Marquez inside of the Marquee Ballroom at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Donaire wasn’t exactly ringside for the contest, more so he was sitting on the ring apron taking pictures of Nishioka’s victory, as photography is one of his many hobbies. And as far as what Donaire saw, he was discrete but said just enough to offer some insight into his confidence heading into his 31st professional fight.
“I saw his weakness in his fight,” said Donaire. “Being a photographer, you see a lot of the first-hand, first-step, and the little tiny things that they do. I just kind of aim for what would stand out for Nishioka. But again, that could totally be different for this fight. I don’t want to look and anticipate something that will not come. But I did see his weakness fighting Marquez.”