Media Interview with Nonito Donaire
BOB ARUM: A lot of people ask me why am I bringing Nonito Donaire to New York at Madison Square Garden and they point out there are over 2M Filipinos that live in the Los Angeles Area and I tell them Filipinos live all over the United States. There are about 400,000 Filipinos living in the New York Metropolitan area and besides there are a lot of great fight fans in New York and this gives them the opportunity to see this phenomenal fighter, Nonito Donaire, and it’s up close and personal. For Nonito’s future, he is being exposed to the Big Apple, fighting an undefeated fighter. This is a tremendous fight and we are very thankful to HBO for airing the fight. We are going to sell this place out – the Theater has 4500 seats and we are moving on our way to a sell-out. So I am looking forward to this card. People in New York will see this great featherweight – Robert’s brother Mikey Garcia in a tough match and we have a lot of local talent on the card. Saturday, October 22nd will be a great night of boxing. Now I would like to call on Robert Garcia, Nonito’s trainer.
Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
ROBERT GARCIA: We are really excited. It is Nonito’s first time in New York. Training camp is going well – we had great sparring. He did what he had to do in camp. He takes every fight seriously – he takes no fight lightly. He is undefeated and he is two-time champion. He could defend his title a few times at 112. He is going to go out there and prove to everybody he deserves to be where he is at right now and that is a top pound-for-pound fighter. We know there will be a lot of people there to support him and we know it is going to be a great fight and a tremendous show with the undercard and we are very happy to be here.
BOB ARUM: Nonito Donaire is coming off a tremendous knockout victory over Fernando Montiel. Montiel was considered to be one of the great bantamweights in the world and everyone knows the result of that fight – a tremendous knockout win.
Nonito Donaire is one of the most exciting boxers in the world today and one of the future superstars in the sport. It is my pleasure to introduce Nonito Donaire.
NONITO DONAIRE: Thank you Bob and HBO for making this happen. I want to thank my team which has done a great job with me. We never take anything lightly no matter who our opponent is. We are really training hard and doing our best. I know that I am ready regardless of whether the fight is today or tomorrow. My mentality is to be 100%. To be at Madison Square Garden – the list of fighters who have fought there is historical. It is an honor to be fighting in Madison Square Garden. It is going to be very exciting and our goal is to get out there and entertain and to show the people where I am, like Jack Dempsey did and those old fighters – the old Italian fighters, the old Irish fighters and the old Jewish fighters. I have watched them all and it is incredible that I will be there and we are going to put our heart and soul and give everything that I’ve got.
BOB ARUM: Nonito will be arranging in New York this weekend and will have a workout at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn on Saturday at 1 PM and it will be open to the public. He will have a media workout on Tuesday at Kingsway at Noon. On Wednesday he will be at the Philippine Consulate at 10:30 AM.
Do you consider yourself a student of boxing history?
NONITO DONAIRE: It is a big part of me looking at the old school fights. I may not know the names of the fighters, but just the fights they have put together from Sugar Ray Robinson and Carmen Basilio and just how incredible those guys were. They fought with no fear and they fought guys over and over. They showed incredible heart – something that I would like to bring out there – that we have the heart to fight anybody and that’s how I am as a fighter.
How much input did you have in Narvaez as a opponent?
NONITO DONAIRE: There were choices given to Top Rank and HBO. I don’t care who I fight. I just tell them what I want the fighter to be. I want the fighter to be a good fighter. Narvaez is a credible fighter. He is a champion and a legend in Argentina. As a fighter I am willing to fight anybody.
How much input have you had on your national anthem derby?
NONITO DONAIRE: With the anthem we wanted to get the tri-state area with New York and the east coast to have the opportunity to show pride for the country and give them the opportunity to sing on HBO for our nation and the world to see. It is exciting for all of the people that put their audition. Rachel and my friends and people that know music are looking at the videos. They are very critical and patriotic and if someone screws it up they will get criticized pretty badly. It is important that we pick the right person – it is a process my Team Filipino Flash is watching very close and it’s incredible.
How is it making the weight?
NONITO DONAIRE: This will definitely be my last fight at 118. Making 118 is difficult – the last two fights, it was easy but with my workout routine I have increased my muscle mass. Tests have showed that it has increased from the last fight to the Montiel fight to now. As you know, muscle is more difficult to shed that fat or water. We want to be healthy and be at our best so 122 we are looking forward to. There are a lot of incredible fighters that Top Rank has at 122, and champions we are willing to face. I am looking forward to it but l never look past what is in front of us.
What do you see as Nonito’s potential?
BOB ARUM: I really believe that Nonito will be a major star in boxing. Everyone that follows boxing knows he is top pound-for-pound but our goal is to make him a superstar. To compare that with Manny missed the point. Manny is a Filipino also but that is the connection. With Nonito, we have to do it Nonito’s way. Dealing with who he is and what he represents. Nonito is as much American as he is Filipino because he has lived in this country for so long and I think he was candidate for the US Olympic team. Manny spends his life in the Philippines, so there is a difference there. We think that Nonito is such a great exciting fighter and such a pleasing personality that we expect as he rises in weight to 122 and 126 and maybe above that he will become a major superstar in the sport.
The goal, as in any fighter, is to make him a pay-per-view attraction. How long that will take? It is sort of silly to make a projection. It will come when it comes. When it comes it will launch him into the elite superstar category where he will make his money based on how many people follow him on pay-per-view. I wouldn’t say ’12 or ’13. We’ll know when it is time to make the move and cannot put artificial projections in the way of getting to the goal we want to get to.
How do you adjust to traveling cross-country?
NONITO DONAIRE: I think it is mainly the mentality of the person. You go out there and you train hard no matter if you are sleeping in the street or in a suite – you prepare yourself to go in the ring. The last fight everything went wrong – my tooth fell out and we were up till 3 in the morning trying to find a dentist to fix my teeth. But when you get in the ring everything just goes. There may be loud noises around and you can’t sleep at night. There are always circumstances that can make you worry but with the right mentality and the right people, like Robert Garcia, My team believes in me and I believe in myself and we have the right mentality no matter wheat goes on before the fight.
ROBERT GARCIA: He is ready to fight on the east coast and he is excited to fight in New York. He’ll be there a week before the fight so he’ll get used to the time change. Three hours difference is no big deal. We’ll be ready for the change and the weather.
After the Montiel KO, Roy Jones came up to you and what did that mean?
NONITO DONAIRE: It means a lot. I’m a big fan of Roy’s, watching Roy and some of the way I fight is like Roy. It is a great honor for a great fighter to come up to me and give me a compliment like that. It was a real high after the Montiel fight but I am always thankful for the blessings God has given me. I put my faith in training. I train hard and that is where my confidence comes from — knowing that my team believes in me and pushes me to my limit. The heart that I have I get from my fans and now Top Rank and HBO back me. When you need the extra push I think about all the blessings that I have. Simple words from Roy and from great fighters, when you are tired out, that gives you an extra boost in training and a determination to work hard.
Can you talk about the Montiel KO sequence?
NONITO DONAIRE: For me I trained really hard as I seek to be a student of the game. It got to the point where a lot of the punches I could see and usually I set up my opponent 3 or 4 steps ahead. I didn’t expect Montiel to throw a looping right with the body position he had at that time – I was expecting a hook. I sat on it and when he threw a looping straight that was the biggest mistake he made because I was ready for the hook, so it gave me an extra second. The body position after the straight then hook, I was ready for it and in perfect position to throw the hook.
ROBERT GARCIA: The cannon that Nonito has, not even all of the elite fighters have it. You can be an elite fighter and not have that cannon. He sees the punches. He studies the opponents inside the ring and feels what’s coming and he already knows whet he’s going to come back with. Montiel was landing a few body shots but Nonito was doing that on purpose to time that moment and it landed but not every fighter has that talent. You can be called the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and not have that talent. Few fighters have it but Nonito is one of them. He is blessed to have it and takes advantage of it and he called it before the fight. He said that was the way it was going to end and two rounds later, we saw it.
NONITO DONAIRE: I did call that in the second round and I explained to Robert beforehand and everyone on my team – they were so surprised. Before I went in the ring I explained to each and every one of them how it was going to end.
ROBERT GARCIA: That’s not a lie. I don’t gamble or anything, but some fans put some money on round 2. He called it – we’re not making this up or exaggerating. That’s just the way it happened.
BOB ARUM: I’ve been around a long time and that was one of the most devastating punches I have ever seen. He caved in Montiel’s face. It was scary and it demonstrates to me that not only is Nonito a good boxer but he has lethal power in his hands and it’s going to be tough for anyone to beat him.
How do you go from a boxer as an opponent to a puncher?
NONITO DONAIRE: It is definitely tricky. We shifted our mindset, but it is always difficult no matter the type. I try to see every detail in the ring and if I don’t, Robert sees it. It’s like a chess match with me – if you make a false move, or an error in trying to hit me, make sure you get your hands where they are supposed to be or I will make you pay. That’s the bottom line with me right now – my power has increased tremendously. We are going to concentrate on that area like Jack Dempsey did and Mike Tyson did. The fight can end in one punch.
Are you going to make a prediction for this fight?
NONITO DONAIRE: I always believe my power is enough to change the fight regardless of how many rounds it is. I have said it over and over that the most satisfying victory is a knockout victory. But if I don’t get it I am ready for 12 rounds. I train for 24 rounds like it’s nothing so we are always ready for the longest it can be or the shortest it can be. There is no prediction but I want to get him as early as I can, getting hit as little as I can. Robert and I put the strategy together and we are really ready.
Have you seen Narvaez video?
NONITO DONAIRE: Robert has seen it but I haven’t. One thing I looked at is the way he stands and where he places his foot. It’s incredible how this guy can fight the way he stands. But that goes to show how incredible this fighter his. His stance is what I need to know and we can take advantage of the angles. Everyone has something and Robert can dissect that and take advantage of it in the fight.
ROBERT GARCIA: He is a helluva fighter. He knows how to take a fight into the later rounds and I’m pretty sure that’s what he’s going to try and do. He’s a veteran at this. He’s a two-time world champion. But once he gets in the ring, he will be in against Nonito. Nonito’s power…Nonito’s speed…Nonito’s footwork is going to show a big difference. It’s going to be an exciting fight and this is the beginning for Nonito. We can’t take this fight lightly because we want to get to those big fights that Bob Arum could be talking about or that Cameron Dunkin has in mind.
Do you foresee any tactical problems?
ROBERT GARCIA: Narvaez’ experience could be a problem for any fighter. He is a veteran, he is tough and he keeps coming. As the rounds go by he keeps coming and coming so we know and we are ready for that. We have the height advantage and the reach advantage and he’ll have to take advantage of that. Nonito has trained and he’s ready to back him up and pin him against the ropes and land combinations. We are ready for anything. He’s been in against good opponents, but no Nonito Donaires. They are game planning for Nonito also. I know as the rounds go by, Nonito sees everything inside the ring and for the first few rounds he will see what Narvaez is trying to do. He could come in and try to box or come in and exchange punches. We don’t know. We’ll see what he’s got in the first two rounds and we have 12 to play with. Nonito is very smart in doing that.
How does this compare to promoting earlier fights with Ali at the Garden?
BOB ARUM: You have to understand, back in those days the fight scene was centered on the east because not many people lived out west. Out west you basically had Mexican fighters fighting at the Olympic. There wasn’t really a melding of the two coasts. The fighters in the east tended to be higher weight fighters than those in the west. That has changed now. The coasts are together. Now it doesn’t matte the size of the fighter. Having a bantamweight fight at the Garden in the 60’s or 70’s was unheard of. We can see from the steady sale of tickets for the 22nd – we are looking optimistically at a sellout. We have about 60% of the tickets sold and every day we are selling more and more. When Nonito and his opponent hit town we are certain the rest of the tickets are going to go. We priced it right so people can afford it — to see great boxing. We are looking forward to unveiling Nonito and his talents on the 22nd. I am prejudiced. I am a New York guy, born in Brooklyn and lived in Manhattan for most of my life and for me with all due respect to Las Vegas and Los Angeles where the weather is nicer, I still have New York in my bones so it is an honor to me to go back and do a fight in new York.
Is there a worry when the fighter gets ranked at top PFP?
BOB ARUM: No, because most fighters are grounded and it doesn’t go to their heads. And even thought he has lived in the U.S. for many years, Nonito is a Filipino. The mindset of the Filipinos that I’ve met is completely different. They are very, even though they have great courage, they are very humble and they realize that God has provided them with their athletic gifts. So I am not worried one bit by Nonito being spoiled by this attention.
How do you deal with being hurt by punches?
NONITO DONAIRE: Your true heart comes out. I was hit when I was 16 when I ran into something I didn’t see and my head was spinning but I was still standing and doing the Ali shuffle. It was something that just came out. That was the only time I felt I got a concussion from getting hit. I am a strategist. If my legs can’t go, then I’ll take a rest. But I’m going to be smart. I am really smart and I have the heart and no matter what it is I am a warrior and I’ll fight with whatever I’ve got. You put your life on the line when you fight in the ring. After all the training I am willing to give everything in there and I will never give up.
What was the hardest you have ever been hit?
NONITO DONAIRE: It was my 6th or 7th fight. I knocked the guy out in the 2nd round, but I saw the punch coming and it buckled my knees but aside from that, I held my ground then knocked the guy out right after that.
How are you a student of the game?
NONITO DONAIRE: I always seek to be better. To be faster…to be stronger. There is always something to learn, each time you go in that ring and each time you’re in that gym. I have a great trainer and the utmost respect in him. He says this is how he stands and this is how he moves…
Do you think height and reach will be to your advantage?
NONITO DONAIRE: My punches are going to be more devastating. But it’s not about the size. If you’re a better fighter, you can beat anyone. When I fought 108 there was no one for me so I went up to 118 or 122 and fight those guys and till beat them. But it’s all natural ability. Size only matters a little bit. But we will be weighing in at the same weight that day at the weigh-in. Being bigger has advantages and disadvantages and being smaller the same. It’s just the best man wins.
NONITO DONAIRE: I will be at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn (77 Front Street) on Saturday at 1 p.m. and I understand Mustafa Hamsho will be there. He was one of the great middleweights of all time.
BOB ARUM: I am very excited to get back to New York next week and I didn’t know that Nonito knew Mustafa Hamsho who was one of the greats and I promoted him in a number of fights and he’s a terrific guy. He owned a restaurant and maybe he still does on Lexington Ave and if he still does Nonito, stay away from there because you have to make weight.
World Bantamweight Champion and Top-Five pound for pound fighter NONITO “The Filipino Flash” DONAIRE (26-1, 18 KOs) makes his New York debut, defending his title against undefeated two-division world champion OMAR “El Huracán” NARVAEZ (35-0-2, 23 KOs), Saturday, October 22, in the Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of Boxing. Donaire enters this fight riding a nine-year, 25-bout winning streak.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Madison Square Garden, the Donaire-Narvaez world title tilt will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark, beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast.)
Remaining tickets to Donaire vs. Narvaez, priced at $200, $100, $50 and $25, including applicable service charges, can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com, and all Ticketmaster outlets.