Manny Pacquiao-Inspired Nonito Donaire Eyes Fernando Montiel
WBA interim super flyweight (115 pounds) titlist Nonito Donaire will pursue his 25th straight victory and his 10th stoppage in his past 12 fights in a Feb. 19, HBO televised bantamweight (118 pounds) showdown against WBO and WBC champion Fernando Montiel from the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas.
A victory over the 31-year-old Montiel (44-2-2, 34 knockouts), said the 28-year-old Donaire (25-1, 17 KOs), will "skyrocket my marketablity," leading to "bigger fights."
"My name will get bigger, and, you know, every fighter will probably try to go after me," said Donaire, a San Leandro, Calif., resident who arrived in America from his native Philippines at the age of 10.
"When you're on top, that's what usually comes out of it," said Donaire. "A win should really stamp my name as a pound-for-pound top 10 guy. No one can get away from me after Montiel."
Donaire would then look to unify the belts, starting with the winner of an April 23, Showtime televised match up between unbeaten, 25-year-old, Mexican-born, IBO and WBC silver belt king Abner Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs), of Montebello, Calif., and Africa's, 30-year-old two-time IBF champion Joseph Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs) that is slated for the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
"Why not? After Montiel, that's two belts. There's a couple more to go," said Donaire. "That would accomplish what has been a dream that I've had since I was a young boy. I'd rather see myself become undisputed champion."
The WBA's bantamweight king is 25-year-old southpaw Anselmo Moreno (30-1-1, 10 KOs) of Panama, who has a Feb. 26 defense against 32-year-old Lorenzo Parra (31-2-1, 18 KOs) of Venezuela.
"But there's also chances in the 122 pound division, so I'm willing to move up as well," said Donaire, who is nicknamed "The Filipino Flash."
"But my goal from the very beginning of my career was to become undisputed champion -- the first one from Asia," said Donaire. "I plan to do that. After that, I trust in my promoter's decision and my manager, Cameron Dunkin, to lead me in the right path."
That path already has been outlined by Filipino countryman, Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), a WBO welterweight (147 titlist) who earned his record eighth crown over as many different weight divisions with November's unanimous decision over ex-champion, Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) for the WBC's junior middleweight (154 pounds) belt.
Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum has compared Donaire favorably to Pacquiao, whom Donaire said is, "definitely an inspiration in my career."
"I'm inspired to seek the possibilities, and that's to go 130 or even more. If it brings me to 135, that's the inspiration that I've gotten from Manny Pacquiao," said Donaire, whose walking around weight is around 135 pounds.
"That keeps me moving and determined and motivated and hungry," said Donaire. "I want to learn and to get better and fight better opposition. I want to see where I can go in my career and to go as high as I can."
Besides the Agbeko-Mares winner, Arum has a promotional stable of fighters against whom he could match Donaire. There are Canadian southpaw IBF super bantamweight (122 pounds) king Steve Molitor (33-1, 12 KOs), and, WBO counter part Wilfredo Vazquez (20-0-1, 17 KOs).
There are WBA and IBF featherweight (126 pounds) king Yuriorkis Gamboa (19-0, 15 KOs) and WBO counter part Juan Manuel Lopez (29-0, 26 KOs).
Down the road at lightweight (135 pounds), there are potential bouts opposite star, Brandon Rios (26-0-1, 19 KOs), who will meet WBA champ Miguel Acosta (28-3, 22 KOs) in a Showtime televised bout on Feb. 26, or WBC lightweight champ, Humberto Soto (54-7-2, 32 KOs), who has an HBO televised, May 7 rematch with Urbano Antillon (28-2, 20 KOs) after having vanquished him by unanimous decision.
"There are so many great options for Nonito, and there's plenty of great competition for him," said Arum. "We have fighters for him to fight and we can make exceptional fights for him all the way up to 135."
But in Montiel, Donaire is facing a man who is among five Mexican fighters to have won world titles over the course of three divisions -- the others being WBA and WBO lightweight (135 pounds) titlist Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1, 38 KOs), Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (107-6-2, 86 KOs), Erik Morales (51-6, 35 KOs) and Marco Antonio Barrera (66-7, 43 KOs), the latter of whom will fight on Saturday against Jose Arias (15-1, nine KOs) of the Dominican Republic.
In April, Montiel trailed on the cards when he scored a sensational fourth-round knockout over Hozumi Hasegawa (29-3, 12 KOs), a man who was in search of his sixth straight stoppage during a 25-fight winning streak that had included 11 knockouts.
In October, Montiel suffered an injury in his right leg as a result of a dirt bike accident that forced him to cancel a proposed Nov. 20 bout against an opponent to be determined.
Montiel rebounded in December, however, scoring two, second-round knockdowns on the way to a non-title, second-round stoppage of Jovanny Soto (29-12-1, 24 knockouts).
The win over Soto, improved Montiel's unbeaten streak to 11-0-1, with nine knockouts, representing the fourth consecutive knockout win for Montiel, who is 5-0-1, with five knockouts in his past six fights.
Montiel has not been beaten since losing by split-decision to Jhonny Gonzalez in May of 2006, during a failed bid to earn the WBO bantamweight crown at a time when Montiel already was the WBO super flyweight champion.
In December, Donaire called Montiel, "the best fighter I have ever faced and certainly the toughest challenge of my professional career." But during a conference call on Tuesday, Donaire somewhat softened his stance.
"I think that Montiel is the most versatile overall type of fighter and the most complete fighter that I will have faced. I don't think that he's the toughest guy that I have ever faced in my career, but I believe that Montiel's been there for quite a while and that he knows what he's doing," said Donaire.
"People may say, 'Oh, he's already shot' because he's been there for a long time. But Montiel has been fighting guys and beating guys who have been the top guys in the weight class," said Donaire. "I know that he's up there and that he's capable of anything. In terms of how smart he is as an overall fighter, I can say that he's by far the most strategic and most complete overall fighter that I will have faced."
Montiel's triumph over Soto came eight days after Donaire's fourth-round knockout during his bantamweight debut against Ukrainian former titlist Volodymyr Sydorenko (22-2-2, seven KOs).
Sydorenko's nose was broken, and he was stopped for the first time in his career after having been dropped once each in the first, third, and, fourth rounds.
"You saw in the last fight with Sydorenko. I felt stronger, faster like a Manny Pacquiao, going up in weight and feeling good and comfortable and more in his real weight class," said Donaire.
"That's how I feel as I'm going up in weight, especially as a bantamweight," said Donaire. "I feel strong, I feel and look bigger and the speed is there, so I feel really good at this weight."
Donaire last suffered defeat by five-round, unanimous decision against Rosendo Sanchez in March of 2001 in only the second fight of his career, and captured his first world title in explosive fashion, dethroning previously unbeaten Vic Darchinyan by fifth-round knockout in July of 2007.
"I think that everybody was shocked. The world was shocked. The promoters were shocked. The fight people were shocked. They didn't know if it was a fluke or not. But as you can see, I've been fighting guys and everybody that they've put in front of me, I've defeated," said Donaire.
"Now, I'm given this opportunity. This is an opportunity that I'm thankful for," said Donaire. "I've got to make it happen and to make it sensational so that people will understand that I have the talent and can make it an exciting night for anybody."