The saying “never meet your heroes” will have new meaning when Reymart Gaballo faces idol Nonito Donaire in a battle between Filipino fighters Saturday night at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Showtime. 

“It’s an honor to fight my idol in the ring. I’m so excited to compete on Saturday night for the world championship,” Gaballo said during a press conference Thursday. “I’m very happy and it gives me great pleasure to have this chance to become world champion. I’ve been working my whole life to accomplish this goal.

“This is going to be a very good fight and I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that my hand is raised after the final bell rings.”

The 25-year-old Gaballo (24-0, 20 KOs), from Polomolok, Philippines, will be looking to pump the brakes on the reviving career of Donaire, the current WBC bantamweight champion, a four-division titleholder and a future Hall of Fame fighter who is 14 years his senior. 

“Age is just a number. I know that Donaire’s movement is still there, just like it’s always been. We’re not going to rely on my youth as the only thing I need in this fight,” said Gaballo. “I’m going to do everything that we’ve worked on and prepared for in training so that I put on a great performance. I’m coming with everything I have to win this fight.”

Gaballo will have to go gangbusters if he has any intent on winning the fight against the more seasoned and experienced Donaire. 

He will have to also dish out a more definitive display of punishment than his most recent fight, a controversial split decision win over Emmanuel Rodriguez last December. 

Gaballo knows that he must show signs of improvement as well. 

“When I look at my last fight, I see that I have to improve my head movement and throw more punches. I believe that I’ve made the improvements that I needed to during training camp,” said Gaballo. “Every time we train in the gym, everyone is throwing me the same punches that Nonito throws. We know that he’s not only going to throw that left hook, so we made sure I’ll be ready for everything.”

During the news conference, Gaballo got stuck trying to express himself in English. Donaire offered to translate from tagalog, only to relay in English how Gaballo was planning on beating him. 

“I don’t like to talk too much, but I can say that I’m going to do my best in the ring on Saturday night,” said Gaballo. 

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at] or on