In an interview with Chris Robinson of the Examiner, trainer Robert Garcia says that Nonito Donaire is aiming to put on a show against Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7. The two super bantamweight titleholders will unify their belts, at least for a minute or two, when they meet in California on HBO.
"He’s knows that it’s very important," Garcia stated. "He knows that he’s moved up in weight and that he’s had a few criticisms from his last fight, especially for not knocking his opponent out. I thought he looked great against a solid champion. But there’s always criticisms anytime you don’t look too great, that’s the first thing they do is criticize. So he knows that it’s very important for him to come out and give a good performance."
Donaire (28-1, 18 KO) has had two straight performances that left a lot of people grumbling. The first, last October against Omar Narvaez, was genuinely a dreadful bore of a fight. That was Narvaez's fault, but the reaction of the Donaire camp after was puzzling, as though nobody involved had scouted Narvaez, who has never been remotely exciting and came simply for the good payday.
The win over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in February was a different story. Really, it wasn't a bad fight, and Donaire also injured his hand in the fight. It wasn't a flashy or thrilling win, but it was a win. Donaire wasn't happy with the performance, and again seemed to blame his opponent.
There's a decent chance he's going to find it hard to be flashy against Mathebula (26-3-2, 14 KO), too. Donaire is, quite frankly, much more talented than Mathebula, and simply better than the South African vet. But Mathebula is also about 5'10" or so, and will have a genuine size advantage on Donaire, which is something we haven't seen before. Might Nonito get a bit tentative if he finds it hard to get something going early? If Mathebula can make life difficult, we could once again see an "underwhelming" Donaire fight.
But there's also a good chance that Donaire can simply outclass Mathebula. The likes of Celestino Caballero and Takalani Ndlovu have not been able to do that, but Donaire is a lot more explosive and dynamic than those guys. No matter what happens, we'll definitely have a good idea of what Donaire can really do at 122, as opposed to his days at 112, 115, and 118.
I also do like that Donaire seems genuinely concerned about being fan-friendly in the ring. It shouldn't be the absolute first thing on a fighter's mind, in my view, but it's nice when it's at least on the agenda. No one should sacrifice a W in order to make some nerd like me happy about what he watched, but Donaire has proven he's smart enough to not go that route, and also talented enough. He cares about being exciting and regarded as an exciting fighter, but won't fight like an idiot to keep that reputation.