Magdaleno confident he’s catching Donaire at right time
Jessie Magdaleno’s confidence matched his bluntness when speaking with RingTV.com at the Jackrabbit Gym in Long Beach, California just a few weeks out from the biggest night of his young career. The newfound confidence is a byproduct of change for Magdaleno, who is set to face Nonito Donaire on Saturday for the WBO junior featherweight title.
“Everything,” Magdaleno answered bluntly when asked what has improved since switching trainers before his first world title shot. Out went Ismael Salas and in came Manny Robles over the summer for Magdaleno.
“He’s really big on the basics,” the southpaw said of Robles. “He made me better on my footwork, sitting down better on my punches, I’m hitting harder, I feel stronger, and I’ve never felt like this before. Like I tell everybody else, I wish I met Manny earlier in my career.”
Robles’ gym in nearby Carson was also a key change that Magdaleno felt he needed on the brink of his biggest test to date.
“I just couldn’t be in Vegas anymore,” Magdaleno said about why he ultimately made the switch. “I love Vegas – it’s my home – and that’s the way I want to see it as. That’s why I came here – to get away from home, to journey out to something new, be with a great trainer, surround myself with great people, and that’s exactly what we did.”
In an ironic twist of this narrative, Salas will be training Donaire for this fight, but that’s not something that worries Magdaleno.
“No, I’m not (concerned), I trained with Salas for a good time, but what is he gonna show Donaire that he didn’t show me?” he said. “I’m with a new trainer who’s picking up my bad habits and perfecting them. Throughout training camp, I’ve been doing great against top fighters in sparring sessions, and I don’t think they’re gonna be ready for what we have coming for them.”
A couple of sparring partners of note for this camp have been former 122-pound world titleholder Jhonatan Romero, and current featherweight prospect Emilio Sanchez. Magdaleno also admitted to which fights of Donaire’s past he and Robles have looked at closely.
“We watched a lot of the Vic Darchinyan fight (their second meeting) because he was giving him a great fight until the ninth round came, and then the Rigondeaux fight, which is my similar style – I like to move, I like to counterpunch, I got the speed, I got the power. We looked at those fights because those are the fights he did have trouble with.”
Although Magdaleno felt he needed to leave Las Vegas in order to get better, he will find himself back home on Saturday, as the fight will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center on a Top Rank pay-per-view card (9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT) headlined by the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas WBO welterweight title bout.
He kept the straight-forward talk rolling when asked if Donaire, 33, still possessed the ability of the fighter who dominated the 122-pound class four years ago.
“False,” Magdaleno quickly answered. “’Cause he’s been in a lot of battles already. He’s fought great wars, and fought tremendous guys that put him to the test. I don’t think he has the same mentality as he did a couple years ago.”
Donaire (37-3, 24 KOs) has four wins since coming back down from featherweight and one particular match Magdaleno might’ve been referring to was a slugfest with Cesar Juarez last December. Should a slugfest unfurl in their match-up, Magdaleno opined, “It can play in my advantage, but at the same time, who knows? I feel like anything is possible. Right now, I’m the young, hungry guy. I think it’s in my advantage because I’m ready for whatever he comes at me with.”
The left hook is surely a punch that can be expected when fighting Donaire, as he has used it to be a world titleholder in four weight classes. It’s certainly his signature punch, but does Magdaleno have one?
“It’s like they say – don’t hook with a hooker. I think my right hook is more powerful than his left hook. But it’s not just my right hook, it’s an accumulation of punches that I have – a great left hook to the body, a great right hook upstairs, so I’m gonna be known for one of those. My last two opponents I’ve put them down with the same left hook to the body, you never know – he might be the third.”