Donaire battles Vetyeka
MACAU—More than the world title, Nonito Donaire Jr., has two very compelling reasons to come up with a very impressive win on Saturday night.
First, he wants to convince everybody that he’s still an elite fighter. That status was tarnished after two uninspired performances in 2013, which according to him was the “dark ages” of his career.
Second, he wants to prove that he can bring his power to the heavier classes. Those two goals collide as he tries to establish street cred in the featherweight division—one of the most exciting weight classes in boxing nowadays.
“This is definitely a must-win,” said Donaire as he emerged from the stage of the swanky Bellini Bar in the far corner of the vast casino floor inside the Venetian where the official weigh-in was held.
Wearing dark glasses, more than one hooded jacket and a bright red track suit, Donaire was said to be six pounds over the limit Wednesday morning. At Friday’s weigh-in however, he checked in at 126 lbs.
His opponent, South African WBA champion Simpiwe Vetyeka came in at 125.5 lbs.
Vetyeka, whose only claim to fame was his stoppage of aging champion Chris John of Indonesia, appeared very relaxed.
“I believe in myself too much. I’m ready for Donaire,” said Vetyeka. “To my fans, I’m ready to rumble. I will bring back the title.”
His biggest weapon is his smashing right hand which he used to punish John last year—and probably his self confidence.
“If he (Donaire) comes out unprepared, I will knock him out,” Vetyeka said a few days ago. “But if he comes prepared, it would be a decision win for me.”
But the Philippine-born, Northern California-raised challenger said he has unlearned his unhealthy reliance on his left hook and now remastered the weapons that made him the 2012 consensus Fighter of the Year.
Donaire reunited with his father, Donaire Sr., as his head trainer for this fight. He trained in Manila for two months to acclimatized to the tropical weather and time zone.
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