Mathebula confident of whipping DonaireBy Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LOS ANGELES—IBF super bantamweight champion Jeffrey Mathebula predicted Tuesday a second career loss for WBO titlist Nonito Donaire Jr. in their world title unification bout on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
“I studied him, I’m not scared of him. He’s a good boxer, believe me, but I know I’m better,” said the 5-foot-10 Mathebula in a small, quivering voice.
“I’m here to get the WBO championship. This is going to be his (Donaire) hardest fight because this will be his second loss. We prepared so hard for him, I’m longer and smarter.”
Mathebula and the 5-foot-5½ Donaire known as the Filipino Flash showed up for the media in a scheduled open workout at the Fortune Gym along Sunset Boulevard but neither climbed the ring to train and display the progress of their preparation.
Instead they spent the whole time talking about how they’ll thrash each other on fight night.
Nick Durandt, the equally articulate trainer and manager of the 33-year-old Mathebula, said Donaire better “bring a stepladder to the ring,” saying it’s going to be Mathebula’s size that will matter.
“We know what Donaire is all about, we know that he has speed and he packs a heavy left hand,” said Durandt. “But it’s gonna be about size, who weighs the most on the night of the fight. We’re not here to talk smart. We’re here to win another title, we want to make history in our country and become the first boxer from our country to unify a title.”
Mathebula, who won the belt from compatriot Takalani Ndlovu by split decision last March, said he will let Donaire come and attack him and take charge from there.
“It’s not all about aggression alone, it’s about counter-punching and catching the guy on the right spot and at the right time,” said Mathebula. “I will let him come in and take it from his punches. That’s it.”
Durandt said Mathebula is already in the 122-lb limit four days before the fight.
“We respect Donaire and his team. He’s a good fighter and we have nothing bad to say about him,” added Durandt. “But you know what, this is a big step for him. He’s been in 122 for what, two fights? He’s fighting my guy who has been super bantamweight all his life.”
Mathebula (26-3-2 with 14 KOs) hasn’t fought in the United States before and his most notable performance was a narrow loss to Celestino Caballero of Panama three years ago in Panama City.
On the other corner of the busy gym, Donaire (28-1-0 with 18 KOs) told reporters he is “in pretty good shape. I feel comfortable in this division.”