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Rachel Marcial Donaire: Cornerperson, Redefined

By: Sean Crose

“We knew he was going to look for the hook. We knew that once he opened up for the straight, he would be susceptible for the hook because he doesn’t ever evade that. We knew if he slipped we’d go straight down the middle all the time. And then we brought in the uppercut. I was like ‘he’s going to look for the hook so, we need to find some way so when he gets to the other side to throw the uppercut’. Everything that we worked on just materialized.”

These words did not come from Robert Garcia. Nor did the come from Freddie Roach. Or Floyd Mayweather Senior, or Buddy McGirt, or Ronnie Shields, or any other of boxing’s best known trainers. They came from Rachel Marcial Donaire as she spoke to ES News after her husband, Nonito Donaire, won the WBC Bantamweight title on Saturday by knocking out defending champion Nordine Oubaali in the fourth round at Carson, California’s Dignity Health Sport’s Park.  To say Donaire supports her husband is an understatement – for the woman can literally be found in his corner, as she was on Saturday night. In short, she’s part of the team – a major part of it.

Just how involved is Donaire in her husband’s training? She literally got in the ring with the man in preparation for Saturday’s fight with Oubaali. “I’d go in the ring and try to punch him in southpaw,” she told ES News. “He noticed he didn’t even have to step in for a jab.” Not that she was a standard sparring partner. “He didn’t hit me back,” he said. Still, the unorthodox training surely led to success. Donaire is no combat sport novice, however. She was good enough in Taekwando to nearly become a member of the 2000 United States’ Olympic Team.

Now, of course, it’s time for the Donaire family to celebrate. “I want to see my kids,” she told ES News on Saturday. “We’ve been in the bubble.” Being quarantined is pretty much no fun for anyone. For Donaire, however, it was particularly difficult. “I’m claustrophobic, so that was kind of a big nightmare for me,” she said with a laugh. Quarantine may have been a nightmare, but clearly the fight with Oubaali ended up becoming a dream come true, as her husband is now a world champion again at the age of 38.

“It’s not about how old he is,” Donaire said after the fight, “it’s about how healthy he is.

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