October 23rd, 2008
Lee Samuels: This is a very, very exciting day for Top Rank as Nonito Donaire, the World Flyweight Champion makes his Top Rank debut next Saturday, November 1 on the Final Impact Pay-Per-View Show at Mandalay Bay, headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. against Matt Vanda in that wonderful rematch.
Nonito is here today in the Top Rank office in our conference room. We’re also joined by Cameron Dunkin, the manager who brought Nonito to Top Rank and we thank him for that.
First I want to introduce the manager of the superstars who brought Nonito to Top Rank, Cameron Dunkin. And he will tell you some more about Nonito. Cameron?
Cameron Dunkin: Nonito is a tremendous talent as we all know. He finally got his opportunity to fight for the title and he knocked out Vic Darchinyan where he was the big underdog in that fight. And now, we’re going to get him on Pay-Per-View and put him where he belongs. And he’ll turn into the superstar fighter that he has all the potential to be.
Lee Samuels: Nonito was born in General Santos City, the same hometown as Manny and he has some incredible stories about life in the Philippines. He now lives in San Leandro, in the Bay Area ofCalifornia
At this time, I want to introduce Nonito Donaire, who’s been training at the Top Rank gym for weeks and weeks to get ready for his title defense on November 1.
Nonito, how’s training going and any updates about your opponent?
Nonito Donaire: Well, first off, I wanted to thank you guys at Top Rank for giving me this opportunity. But training has been really great for me — everything is good right now. I’m ready for this. I’m ready.
Bernard Fernandez: Look, I wanted to ask you about your memories about what happened at the Olympic trials and the sit-down strike that you and your brother staged. And if you felt that maybe not going to the Olympics and having a chance at a medal might have hindered you at the outset of your pro career and it had maybe made you even more determined to have success as a professional?
Nonito Donaire: Yeah, I think it helped out a lot for me because, you know, for me it was another path that I had to take — I didn’t have to take. I wasn’t pampered to fight this and this. I didn’t have any option. I had to fight the toughest guy out there and he made me who I am today.
Bernard Fernandez: Did your dad and your coach talk it over about — I mean, ’cause you or your brother had a chance to go to — I guess to box, obviously, you know, neither one of you was going to have a chance to do that by staging the sit-down strike.
But what was your rational behind doing that? And how upset were you with the entire amateur boxing establishment in the United States.
Nonito Donaire: Oh, being 16 or 17, that was my life’s goal. I wanted to be an Olympian. I wanted to fight like everybody did, you know. That’s what they wanted to do, you know. And life hit me in a way — ’cause I thought I won that fight. But like I said, it just made me who I am. It made me strong and it made me take life — that life’s not going to give it to you as easy as you think it may be.
Bernard Fernandez: You fought Brian Viloria who was the U.S.A. boxer of the year and defending world champion. Everybody talks about, there’s one or two sacred cows going to the trials that aren’t supposed to lose. And they do everything they can not to knock ’em out. But did you feel that the deck was stacked against you because it was Brian Viloria?
Nonito Donaire: Well, yeah, because everybody, you know — how the amateur goes, everybody that said they fought ’em hard, beat ’em, this and this. And I saw that with my brother. My brother really destroyed ’em, but still, you know. And there was no way of winning except for knocking ’em out and that was in our heads.
Steve Kim: Nonito, my question is, how important is Manny Pacquiao to the Philippines? Can you even put into words?
Nonito Donaire: No. You know, just the way he — he’s the key. He was the key to opening the door. He’s done everything for all the Filipino fighters and there’s no … we can always thank him for everything. I mean, just endless thanks, because he’s done a lot for the Philippines, for the Filipino community and for the Filipino fighter, for me as well. So, we just bow our head. We’re just thankful for him being there.
Steve Kim: And Nonito, my second part of that question is — and how much of an opportunity does that possess for you in terms of your marketability and building a fan base because of Manny’s popularity?
Nonito Donaire: Well, I just do my best. Just being a few Filipinos in the industry it helps out too, because he’s Manny Pacquiao and we’re coming up — I’m coming up and then those people are seeing that, ‘hey, Filipino people have talent,’ and stuff like that. So, it helps out a lot knowing that there’s — right now there’s only a few. But, yes.
Steve Kim: Nonito, has your life changed a lot from winning the title. You haven’t fought in a while. I believe you got married.
Can you describe what the last 10, 11 months have been for you?
Nonito Donaire: It was an on and off schedule here and there, and it was frustrating, But my people, my family and the people that care about me, you they were there for me. And they held me up. It was a rough time, but I’m just thankful that my family’s there for me, especially my wife.
Bob Velin: We seem to be seeing more stoppages, KOs and TKOs in the flyweight division in recent years. Do you think that’s the case? And if so, why?
Nonito Donaire: When I started fighting, I didn’t have the people behind me that I have now. I was fighting guys at 122 and 118 when I should’ve been fighting a 108, 112 before. So going back to my real weight, my real power is there. And that has to do with everything else. Aside from that, my mentality is just on another level now.
Bob Velin: Do you think — within the division itself, do you think there are more stoppages?
Nonito Donaire: I guess so. Everybody fights and they’re not afraid to fight. And they’re just lighter, so it’s easier for me to take them out.
Robert Morales: Nonito, I’m wondering I think I wanted to kind of play off of one of Steve Kim’s questions. I think maybe he wanted to know that from a positive standpoint, how have things changed for you in the Philippines? As far as your popularity, as far as being recognizable, walking up and down the street, that kind of stuff? I know it’s not on the level of Manny, of course. But how has your life changed in that regard?
Nonito Donaire: Oh, it changed a lot. I mean everybody’s noticing me. Especially when I’m in the Philippines, they gather around me. And my wife gets pushed aside all the time and.
But it’s tremendous and that’s one thing that keeps me going as well is because these guys are looking at me and a lot of them are looking at me in a way that helps them, that encourages them in their daily life. And I want to be able to give out more as well to that. That’s why I fight as hard as I can too.
Robert Morales: Not to overlook your opponent that’s coming up on November 1, but there’s a couple of things I want to ask you as far as your immediate future.
Vic Darchinyan is going to be fighting on the same day. And at a recent press conference, he was talking about how he thought you were nothing, and he went out there to knock you out and he just got caught; that it was just an accident, and “I’ll prove it in the rematch.” Basically, he’s not giving you any credit for knocking him out in the fifth round. And of course we’ve all seen that fight and we pretty much know that you had him going the whole time. It wasn’t just the one round that you got lucky.
But what do you say to those comments from Vic? And would you like to fight him in a rematch down the line?
Nonito Donaire: That’s most likely. That’s most definitely, Vic just can’t accept it. I took everything away from him that night, everythin. His nose was bloodied up, he got a cut, he was dropped. He had everything taken away from him that night. He’s in denial of that.
My promoter will make it happen if they want to. That’s up to them. My manager will decide on that. For me, I’m a fighter. My promoter, my manager — and I’m a fighter. And that’s all I do is fight. And they do their own thing. And for me, whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it. I’ll fight who’s ever out there. But if that fight ever does happen, that would be good. And I think that would be really fun.
Rick Folstad: Nonito, what did you learn from your fight with Darchinyan? What did you learn about yourself?
Nonito Donaire: My confidence was boosted a lot, you know. In my mind now, I know I’m at this level. And, you know, just the — just everything just went up, skyrocketed: my physical, my mental, you know, everything. I can see everything just because of the confidence levels that I can feel — and I know that I can take on anybody now in my weight class.
Rick Folstad: But you’d feel confident fighting him a second time?
Nonito Donaire: Oh, yeah. Like I said, I think it’ would be fun. I figured him out before, and there is nothing more that he can do. He hasn’t shown anything that’s shown me he has changed and he can do something against me. I feel that everything that he’s done is the same thing. It will be the same old story if it comes down to it.
T.K. Stewart: Nonito, your last fight, which I saw from ringside at Foxwoods against Louis Maldonado, you complained afterwards about not really having your legs because of the weight that you had to lose. And I’m just kind of wondering how is your weight now because you’ve been off a while? And I’m just kind of wondering how you’re adjusting?
Nonito Donaire: I went to the gym and started training early for this fight. We started our training camp early this time so that we wouldn’t have the weight issue. The last time around we had about a month for that fight; this time we had two months or more to get ready for it. So my weight is really good right now. I’m ready for this fight.
T.K. Stewart: Okay. And then one of the things that I noticed last time is you and your dad — you know, your father’s very animated, he’s obviously very concerned about how you’re doing. And he yells instructions to you from ringside and he seems to get very excited.
And I was just wondering if you could kind of talk about your boxing relationship with your father a little bit for us.
Nonito Donaire: Well, I started with my dad. He taught me everything I know. Everything that I’ve learned, everything that — who I am now as a fighter is because of the way he made me think inside that ring. He taught me how to be smart, how to be strong, how to be fast. And like a father and son relationship, there’s always a problem. We have our ups and downs, but when we’re together, we’re unstoppable. Okay?
Chris Cozzone: The flyweight division is probably turning into one of the toughest divisions in boxing and there are a lot of great matches for you in the future, whether it’s Arce or a rematch with Darchinyan or Mijaris.
Is it hard to keep focused knowing that all these great fights are in the future? Because you’ve got a tough guy ahead of you next week.
Nonito Donaire: I think that’s what makes it easier to focus knowing that, there are these guys who are really tough. If I’m fighting the guys that people are like ah, it’d be about then, you know, the lack of discipline is there. But if I’m focusing on these guys knowing that they’re great and I have a lot of respect for those guys and knowing that they’ve done so much in boxing and for themselves. It really helps me to focus and to know that, this is the guy that I want to chop down. These are the obstacles and the hurdles that I have to jump over. And it really helps me to focus really to be the best.
Chris Cozzone: Well, what about the guy you’re fighting next week? What do you know about him? He is coming in as an underdog just like you were last year with Darchinyan. Does that factor into your preparation at all?
Nonito Donaire: Well, my mentality right now is like — since I have been fighting a while — I don’t put myself in that level right now because, that’s why I’m training as hard as I can and I want to give it all I got. I still have that hunger. I’m not taking this guy lightly, but my mentality is that I’m fighting for this belt, because that’s — if I put it in my head that, hey, I’m the champ and this and this and that, you know, it just brings my mentality down.
So for me to get me going, I tell myself — this is the title that we’re fighting for. This is not my title yet until I really feel that I own this title. And then that’s why I’m going into this ring as hungry as I came into that ring with Darchinyan.
Ramon Aranda: Nonito, what can you tell us about the opponent? Have you had a chance to either see some tapes or have you seen him fight before? What have you been able to learn from some of his previous fights?
Nonito Donaire: Well, he has a style. He’s always in shape. He’s one dimensional. He fights fair, but he’s really tough. He can take a punch. He can dish out a lot of punches; he throws a lot of punches. I haven’t really, really seen him fight much, but one thing I know, this guy can be tough if you take him lightly. We’ve already come up with a game plan that if I throw out this punch and it lands, I know I can take him out.
Ramon Aranda: You haven’t fought in a while. I believe your last fight was with Luis Maldonado. And I know you had been kind of frustrated not really being able to get a fight.
Now that you’re with Top Rank, how does it feel to have a different promoter? There are guys that like to push, especially a lot of the young talent out there, to have a big Filipino following as well.
Nonito Donaire: Well, I love being in Top Rank. They’ve taken care of me. All I’ve had ever since I’ve been in this office is a smile. They’ve been great to me. I’m confident that I don’t even have to worry about calling them about this and that, and bugging them about getting a fight because I know they’ll take care of me. And the Filipino people out there as well are making a wave and I’m definitely sure and confident that they’re taking care of me the way they’re taking care of me now.
Robert Morales: Cameron, I just wanted to talk about Nonito’s overall talent as far as you know. His knockout victory over Darchinyan was really a tremendous accomplishment. You’ve had a lot world champions over the years during your career.
What do you think about Nonito in comparison to some of, you know, the better fighters that you’ve had. I mean, does Nonito have that possibility to be one of your best?
Cameron Dunkin: Well, I mean, everyone’s going to always say that, but I mean, I really mean this. I managed Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, who I thought was for a while and I — just a phenomenal fighter. And Johnny Tapia also, you know, a light division fighter and Danny Romero, and they’re all terrific fighters.
Nonito can be as good as Mark Johnson, and I know you were right over there by him when he’s fighting at the Forum. He just has so much talent. He is so fast. Kenny Adams, who I really admire, okay? And he’s a great trainer. He said the other day when he was — he brought over a sparring partner for Nonito, and he pulled me aside and said, “This guy,” he goes, “I don’t know where you got this guy. He’s better than Corrales,” God rest his soul. But as a fighter, this kid can be so, so, so terrific.
He’s got speed. He’s got power. He’s huge for a flyweight. He’ll be big at 18. He was knocking out 22 pounders when he weighed 115 pounds. That I had guys like Agiñaga who didn’t stop in eight rounds. He was knocking them out in four rounds at 115 pounds. I could just go on and on and on. This kid can be tremendous.
Robert Morales: How did you come upon him? I know you’re the one that brought him to Top Rank. How did that work? You finding him and bringing him over?
Cameron Dunkin: I saw him in 2000 when I signed Pavlik and Luevano, and all of them. And I was interested in him, but at that time he signed with Jackie Kallen and it didn’t go real well, I guess, with them. And I just kept tracking him and following him. And I saw that he wasn’t fighting.
And I finally got in touch with him and I asked him. Nonito was to the point where he wasn’t going to fight. Glenn came to the phone, his brother, and he wanted to fight, but they had to talk Nonito into fighting. He was ready to retire. He wouldn’t even come to the phone to talk to me. And now, he’ll laugh about it. But now he’s going to be on top of the world, so it really turned out great.
Robert Morales: Nonito, can I just ask you bout at what point were you really seriously considering retiring?
Nonito Donaire: I did. I did. I stopped. My brother kept calling Cameron and I was like, no, just go. For me, I was done with boxing then. I was really done. I didn’t have — I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to go back to school…just work and live my life as a normal guy. And I was really done with it. I always thank Cameron for it. That’s why I give everything to Cameron. Whatever Cameron says goes.
Robert Morales: What year was this? Do you remember?
Nonito Donaire: I think it was in 2003 or 2004, something around that time.
Karl Freitag: They’ve been talking about after this fight putting you in with Arce. Are you going to be paying extra close attention to his fight on the same card? And what do you think about that? Is that what you’re looking at?
Nonito Donaire: Right now I have a guy in front of me who’s trying to take my belt, who’s trying to take away everything that I have. And that’s the one thing that I’ll focus on.
If that fight happens with Arce next year or anything like that, then that’s when I’ll focus on that. I know I’ll have time after that. But the guy in front of me is the main person that I’m focusing on right now.
Karl Freitag: Yeah, the guy coming in, he’s a big puncher and so are you. Do you think this fight’s going to not go the 12?
Nonito Donaire: I think not. I mean we’re both warriors, you know. And I’m the type to fight and he’s the type to fight, so it’ll be an exciting, exciting fight. I can’t wait for it if it does happen, so.
Karl Freitag: There’s a conference call the other day and both the Mijares camp and Darchinyan were both trash talking you. So it looks like you’re really in the mix, so all these guys and Arce also are at 115. So if you go out and start fighting them, are you going to move up a division, or are you going to stick with the flyweights?
Nonito Donaire: You know that’s a decision that my promoter and manager will have to decide on. For me, whatever they decide to do, but just the fact to be in the 115 pounds is very exciting and it brings out — those guys will bring out the best of me and I would love to fight those guys. Those guys are great.
Karl Freitag: How you feel at that weight as opposed to how you feel at this weight?
Nonito Donaire: I think I’ll feel a lot, lot better. But like I said…at 122 that’s where you have to have some discipline. I can get any weight they want me to be. But I think I’ll feel really good at that 115 pounds.
Colin Seymour: Hello, Nonito. I’m calling from San Jose. We’re talking about how you, you know, what it’s like for you when you go to the Philippines. And now of course you’re training in Las Vegas. But, you’re basically a Bay Area guy aren’t you? Are you going to continue to be based in San Leandro?
Nonito Donaire: I think so. For me it’s home. If it’s not in San Leandro, it has to be somewhere in the Bay Area. The hills are there for me to run, my friends are there, my family is there. And when I’m not fighting, it’s home for me. So most likely I’ll be out there still and come out here when it comes to hard training.
Colin Seymour: San Leandro used to be sort of a White enclave racist, and now it has sort of a Black image. But apparently the Filipino community is pretty strong there. Can you tell us what it’s like there and how much support you have from the community in the Bay Area?
Nonito Donaire: There’s a lot of — of course there’s a lot of Filipino support, but usually I’m a homebody, so I don’t really know what goes around outside. I know I’ve had a lot of Filipinos, you know, when I go to Filipino stores and then, they support me and they cheer me on. So it’s really nice to know that they do support me.
Q:: Can you put this in perspective — do you know the comparisons between you and Manny? Are you sort of just trying to make a name for yourself? How hard is it to overcome Manny’s shadow, especially because you’re both Filipino and you came from the same town? Is that something that you’re trying to do, just sort of like step away, or — tell us a little bit about that.
Nonito Donaire: I don’t really put it in my head where I’m going with it. For me, I fight. I’m provided with a great manager and a great promoter. I just fight, fight, fight.
If I can give out at the same time to help people mentally and get them going with their lives and then to do their best, you know, for me that’s good enough for me. However far I get in my career is God’s will, and I’m going to do the best I can, but I never really put it in that perspective where I thought about in the shadow of somebody or putting on my own path.
I’m putting on my own path, but one thing is that I’m thankful for the fact that Manny’s in front of me and he’s giving me all these examples. And he’s giving me this determination to fight hard, stay hard and that sums it up. That’s just how it is for me.
Ramon Aranda: This is kind of a follow-up question to the question about being out here in the Bay Area. Myself, I’m actually calling from Union City. How do you see the boxing scene out here in the Bay Area? What would you like to do in the future? I mean, like to possibly fight in like San Jose or San Francisco, or anything like that?
Nonito Donaire: Oh, yeah. That would be great. I mean, being in my hometown, we can fill up that place like nothing. I’ve known a lot of friends there. There’s a lot of people out there, my family, friends of family. We can definitely, definitely make it fun if we fight out there. And we could definitely pack that place up.
And I think that the boxing in the Bay Area, or just the fighting itself in the Bay Area is increasing and they’re seeing it more. And that’s good for me in boxing.
Lee Samuels: That was our last call. Nonito, let’s — first of all I want to ask Cameron, what do we expect to see on Saturday night, and where do we go from there?
Cameron Dunkin: You’re going to see a tremendous fight. The opponent’s a very tough guy and no body knows of him, but we’ve watched him and he’s a very, very tough guy.
But you’re going to see a special talent in Nonito; that I think you’re going to see a difference in speed and strength and extreme power. He’s one of the hardest punchers in boxing. And I think you’ll see Nonito take over and knock this guy out with a tremendous knock out.
Lee Samuels: And to all the fight press, Nonito will be in the Top Rank gym on Tuesday for his media day workout. We’ll send you a complete schedule. All the Pay-Per-View fighters will be there at the Top Rank gym on Business Lane in Las Vegas.
Nonito, you’ve been training for many, many weeks in the Top Rank gym. I know you’re in condition, but what do you expect to happen — will happen on Saturday, November 1?
Nonito Donaire: I’m going to go in there more confident. You know, I’m confident as a fighter. And I’ve always been this type of a fighter. And I don’t make much prediction on how the fight’s going to go, but one thing is that I’m the type to take guys as early as I can, if I can. So, you know, I’m going to do that.
I’m going to be the same person, you know. You’re going to see power; you’re going to see speed. And if this guy comes in tougher than we expect him to be, then you’re going to see a lot more change in style from me. I’m ready for this and I’m just excited.
Lee Samuels: And thank you. It was a great call. And I want to thank all the fight press and we’ll see you all next week at Mandalay Bay for Final Impact.