Philippine boxing’s man of the moment, Nonito Donaire Jr., is looking at yet another hectic schedule next year with the reigning WBO super bantamweight champion entertaining thoughts of going up another weight class.
Coming home to a warm welcome yesterday morning after he battered Mexican tough guy Jorge Arce into retirement with a third round knockout in Houston last Dec. 16, Donaire said he might fight three or even four times in 2013 just like what he did this year.
Donaire, who did the rounds of television appearances straight from the airport, said he would like to next face Mexican WBC super bantamweight champ Abner Mares (25-0-1 with 13 knockouts). However, he admitted it would be unlikely as the 27-year-old Mares is tied with Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime.
The 30-year-old Donaire is under contract with Top Rank and HBO, which are the main rivals of Mares’ outfits. WBA champ Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0-0 with 8 KOs) is in the TR stable but Donaire said he’s not interested in fighting the 32-year-old Cuban.
“I like to take things step by step,” Donaire said on TV. “126 (pounds) is just around the corner. Then if I can be competitive at 126 then I stay at 126, but I can also go to 130.”
The road to the next weight division, however, is littered with Mexicans like WBO champ 32-year-old Orlando Salido (39-11-2 with 27 KOs) and WBC holder 32-year-old Daniel Ponce de Leon (44-4-0 with 35 KOs).
At 5-foot-5 ½ inches, Donaire is tall enough to even go up to 135 but there are concerns about his having “small bones.”
Donaire is hoping to snag the Fighter of the Year award on the strength of his four-fight sweep where he wrested the WBO belt from Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. on his very first outing at 122 last March. He also took the IBF crown of Jeffrey Mathebula last July. Three months later, he ended the career of Japanese former champ Toshiaki Nishioka with a TKO win before capping the year with a superb victory over Arce.
“I’m always proud to raise my flag, which is the Philippine flag. I’m always proud of who I am. And whatever I could give to the Filipinos, to the whole world, either the excitement of a fight or an inspiration in anyway, I will give it to them. And in doing so, I will do my best,” he said in a press conference shortly after his arrival.
Donaire, 30, described Arce, 33, as a “powerful” foe, noting that he felt the strength of the Mexican when they traded punches.
“I saw stars. But of course, he went down at the same time, so my punch was stronger. But at the same time, he was very dangerous because I saw stars when I got hit. So I knew I had to be smart. I needed intelligence because if I just punch carelessly, I will eventually get hit so I had to set him up properly,” Donaire said.
Donaire said he also learned a few things from the loss of Manny Pacquiao to Juan Miguel Marquez last Dec. 8.
“I know he (Pacquiao) did well, he made a good showing. He had good footwork, power, speed, but he got hit by a punch he did not see coming,” he added.
He said he would be staying in the country for a few weeks to relax and enjoy the holidays. With a report from Roy Luarca