By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, the recently crowned WBC Continental Americas bantamweight champion says his title fight against WBC/WBO champion Fernando “KO-Chulito” Montiel is a “now or never” battle.
Donaire told BoxingScene.com/Inquirer following a press conference to launch his showdown with Montiel at the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel and Casino on February 19, “we are both ready and looking forward to this fight. I’m really excited. I’m confident about this fight. It’s like now or never for me.”
Donaire who made fight fans and the media sit up and take notice when he scored a cracking 5th round “Knockout of the Year” against highly fancied Vic Darchinyan on July 7, 2007 said he’s “in pretty good shape and ready for it.”
The Ring Magazine No. 5 in the pound-for-pound list behind fellow Filipino Manny Pacquiao began sparring last week and said he will step up his sparring this week when he will go up against undefeated Austreberto Juarez (10-0, 2 KO’s) who Donaire said “has a somewhat similar style to Montiel.”
He said trainer Robert Garcia reported to training camp at the start of the year and that they are now “really focused on this fight and we are both looking forward to it.”
Donaire (25-1, 17 KO’s) conceded that Montiel (43-2-2, 33 KO’s) is “the best fighter I have ever faced and certainly the toughest challenge of my professional career. Its going to be a battle of strength and will. I am leaving nothing to chance in training and when the final bell rings on February 19 (20 in Manila) the Philippines will have another mark in the victory column against Mexico.”
While Donaire may consider the Montiel fight his toughest challenge, Las Vegas bookmakers seemed to disagree. Sportsbooks opened the lines with Donaire, at -220, a big favorite over Montiel, who is a +180 underdog.
Celebrated trainer Freddie Roach earlier told the Inquirer he believes “it’s a 50-50 fight” while top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Montiel-Donaire had all the makings of “The Fight of the Year.”
The odds don’t faze Montiel who said “the only advice I can give you is to run to the nearest sportsbooks and bet all your money on me.” At the same time he said “I don’t worry about the odds.I also doesn’t worry about losing. This is the kind of fight I was looking for. This is what motivates me.”
Both fighters predicted the fight would not go the distance with Montiel saying it could be a knockout either way. At the same time Montiel hinted this evarly of a possible rematch when he said “I’m not preparing myself for one war. I’m preparing myself for two wars. I’m that sure of a rematch. “
The champion was sure on one thing more adding “I will win the rematch, too.”