Friday, May 24, 2024  |



Nonito Donaire’s new mindset for victory

Fighters Network
Zsolt Bedak (left) and WBO junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire. Photo credit: Ryan Songalia

Zsolt Bedak (left) and WBO junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire. Photo credit: Ryan Songalia


CEBU, Philippines – “What are we? Warriors! What is our mission? Victory!”

That was the chant with which Nonito Donaire Jr. led his team moments after stepping off the scales, Friday, before his fight with Hungarian Zsolt Bedak, for the first defense of his WBO junior featherweight title at Cebu City Sports Complex in the Philippines.

It was a different kind of energy than had usually surrounded Donaire in the days leading up to his previous fights. Typically those days are marked by sunken eyes and parched lips but Donaire seemed far more comfortable making the 122-pound limit than he had been in many years.

He credits it to healthier training habits. More so, he credits it to a healthier mindset.

For the last year, Donaire (36-3, 23 knockouts) has been attending the seminars of motivational guru Tony Robbins (Donaire has a Tony Robbins Platinum Partnership).

“Mentally it’s about realizing. (Robbins) gives you the tools to realize who you are as a person, where you want to be as a person, how to do it and just the mentality of it all because you can create whatever you want in life with the energy that you have within you,” explains Donaire, who came in at 121.75 pounds on Friday, a quarter pound heavier than Bedak.

Donaire says he’s a changed person now. As a man, as a father of two sons, a son to his trainer, Nonito Sr., a husband to his wife, Rachel. And as a fighter, too he insists. Beginning with how he maintains his conditioning throughout the year, staying at a manageable walk-around weight between 133 and 135 pounds instead of blowing up between fights.

“Before, hell no, I would get big, get fat, go up to 150 and drop down to 112,” Donaire said.

Change is good news for Donaire, whom many felt was on his last legs after surviving a life-and-death struggle against unheralded Mexican Cesar Juarez in December to win the title vacated by former RING champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, who had previously beaten Donaire in 2012.

There’s no better place than home field advantage for Donaire to begin showing that. The 33-year-old Donaire, a four-division titlist, was born just a two-hour ferry ride in the province of Bohol and will enjoy an extraordinarily partisan advantage from the anticipated 30,000+ fans at the outdoor venue.

The 32-year-old Bedak (25-1, 8 KOs) may be made to order for Donaire, having lost by 10th round technical knockout to Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in 2010 in his only pro fight outside of Europe. An impressive victory could put Donaire back onto the radar of premium US TV networks like HBO and Showtime, where he hasn’t fought since his 2014 knockout loss to Nicholas Walters.

“There’s a few fights that I want. Of course, we’ve got (IBF titleholder Carl) Frampton; we’ve got Rigondeaux. I think with the new mentality that I have, I’m ready for (Bedak),” Donaire said.

Donaire Sr. knows the mission against Bedak is not just to do more than win but to look impressive and entertaining. He thinks the biggest issue will be finding Bedak to do the work they need to do.

“We’re looking for a knockout. The most we’re looking at is six rounds. I know this guy is gonna run. If he’s trying to slug with Nonito, it’s gonna be early,” said Donaire Sr.

Like father, like son for the Donaires.

“If I’m given an opportunity, an opening for a knockout, you know that I will take that. That’s who I am; that’s my identity as a fighter. I am a warrior and I go out there with dignity and honor in destroying an opponent,” said Donaire.

Magsayo, Avalos could steal the show

The 12-round featherweight bout between Mark Magsayo and Chris Avalos may not be the main event but it could end up being the event on Saturday.

Magsayo (13-0, 10 KOs) is one of the Philippines’ most exciting prospects at age 20 while Avalos (26-4, 19 KOs) is seeking one last run at a title fight after being stopped in 2015 by Frampton and Oscar Valdez.

The two locked in a cold staredown on Friday but Magsayo, who, like Donaire, also hails from Bohol, emerged with a playful throat slash gesture.

“I want to follow the steps of Manny Pacquiao,” says Magsayo, who, like Avalos, weighed in at 125 pounds.

If Magsayo is not yet what promoter ALA Boxing hopes he is, Avalos has the power and experience to find it out.




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