Donaire 'floating on air'
The “Filipino Flash” says he’ll hit the ground running this Saturday in Vegas against Guerrero
Story and photos by Chris Cozzone
“I’ve never had a fight that I was 100 percent at in Las Vegas . . . .”
That, says Nonito Donaire, will change on February 13.
In what will be his fourth appearance in Las Vegas, Donaire, 22-1, 14 KOs, will defend the interim version of the WBA’s super flyweight championship against Mexico City contender Gerson “El Nene” Guerrero, 34-8, 26 KOs, in the main event of a Top Rank Pay-Per-View card from the Las Vegas Hilton.
“This time around, I’m 100% and confident,” says the “Filipino Flash.”
“I’m going to be floating on air and going with the flow. This camp has brought out the best in me and I’m going to fight without inactivity and distractions.”
Donaire spent 2008 largely inactive, and much of last year recovering from a scary bout with dengue fever. Having recovered his health – and, now, his speed and power – Donaire looks to unleash a distraction-free reign of terror on anyone weighing 115 to 126.
The marquee names that await Donaire, however, could be his new distraction.
Last week, during a media workout at the Top Rank Gym in Vegas, Donaire – and manager Cameron Dunkin - spent the majority of their time talking about everyone but the dangerous Mexican who will be in front of him Saturday night.
“At 115, we have Vic Darchinyan and Jorge Arce,” Dunkin counted off the super showdowns awaiting his fighter. “At 118, there’s Fernando Montiel. Eventually, we’re going to target 122, and Israel Vazquez. After that, he wants ‘Juanma’ [Juan Manuel Lopez] at 126.
“He’s high on Darchinyan but he really wants Montiel. And Arce. Then anyone at 122. Then 126.”
Though a rematch with Darchinyan, against whom Donaire had his coming out party when he dethroned the 112-pound reigning champ by fifth round TKO, is on the table for April, it’s not impossible that Arce could be lined up first.
“It’s tough not to look down the road,” says Donaire. “I see those faces in my mind and I want to hit them.”
In the meantime, there’s a much-less known fighter to deal with, former title challenger and longtime contender, Guerrero.
“I’ll try not to look ahead of this guy,” says Donaire. “He is a big threat. Anyone with a high kayo percentage is always a threat.”
Though a world title shot eluded Guerrero for much of his career, his one shot came in 2006 when he took a fight on just days notice, moving up two divisions and giving up weight and size to then-champ Daniel Ponce de Leon. Needless to say, Guerrero was stopped in two. Since then, Guerrero has lost but one bout in six – a decision in Japan to undefeated Alexander Bakhtin, again, fighting out of his division just to keep busy.
“Gerson, he can punch so he’s always a threat,” says manager Dunkin. “But Nonito, he’s too fast and too smart for him.”
There will be more than renewed speed and ring savvy to the rising Filipino star Saturday night, says Donaire:
“If this camp has shown me anything, it’s that I need to destroy my opponent.”