That was a very intense face-off. What did you see in Rigo's face?
"I think his coaches just kept telling him not to look away. I looked, and he kept staring, and the only reason I looked away was he broke his stare at me, and he started looking at my nose and my mouth. Then I said, OK, I'm good. Today was my moral victory, in terms of just being able to face off, and he felt my energy. And that's why maybe he looked away from me, because I started to get heated. That's always me. The warrior in me just starts to come out. I'm a very peaceful guy, I'm a very happy guy. I always tell people and I always tell myself to be a good person. But when I'm in that mode, when I'm in that stage, another person, my alter ego comes in, and you see that energy. You see my breathing. I know you can feel that energy I bring out there. The energy I'm gonna (bring) in is fearlessness. I'm not afraid of anything. Confident. Just anything and everything that a warrior is."
Last year you had four fights, this year how many fights do you want to do?
"For me, this is one step. I'm gonna try to take it step-by-step. The one thing that's most important to me is not this fight, not this victory, of course I'm gonna win. But because of my baby. That's the thing I think about most every morning and every night. I talk to my baby every night before I go to bed, and when I wake up in the morning, I talk to my baby. To me, that means so much essence in my life. That's why I said I'm at -- usually at this time, a person and a champion is vulnerable, because he's become everything that he wanted to be. Titles, Fighter of the Year, and having a baby. That's when, usually, your vulnerability comes in, because you don't think of anything else. But I guarantee that you'll get the best of me."
In the Nishioka fight, the left hand was kind of bloodied. How's the hand?
"It's good. I haven't had any problem with the hand. I got a good rest. When I fought Arce, I didn't do anything with it, no injuries. So from after the fight with Nishioka until now, my hand's been healing. It's good. We've had about two months in this training camp, so we're well prepared. I've sparred with Erick De Leon and Victor Pasillas. They're prospects, great left-handers. I think they're gonna be the future of boxing."
Where does that warrior spirit that you were talking about come from? Because stories you've told me are that you were kind of, like, a smaller guy, weren't the imposing warrior that you are now. Where does that come from?
"Throughout the years, you learn to become brave. You learn to become strong. You learn to become confident. But one thing for sure, you learn to be who you are. I kind of psych myself out into thinking it's a gladiator ring, that it's the last day that I'm gonna be on earth if I don't win. So that's the mentality that I have. Also, I don't want to see sad faces."
Have you ever been in a position in your life where you were bullied? Did you ever experience that?
"Oh, yeah. I've gotten where people would just run in front of me and just jump-kick me, or hit me in the knee. Just grab my neck and knee me in the playground, and I'm on the ground just gasping for air. Or somebody would just come up and flick my ears or smack the back of my head."
Was this because of your nationality?
"Yeah, and I didn't speak English back then. My English wasn't as good. I didn't understand. That's a time when you're very vulnerable, you can't protect yourself, you can't even explain properly the things that happened to you. So I'd just come home crying, like, my life is worthless. Why am I here?"
When did that change?
"It changed during high school. I've always been the funny guy. In high school, I started just kind of, um -- actually, it changed on Junior Olympics. I think it was Junior Olympics when they showed me on TV, on ESPN, I got a bye because a guy didn't want to fight me. Oh, no, it was the nationals actually. The nationals. Anyway, one of those. Around 10th grade or something, then I became kinda cool."
You said that you don't have anything to prove, and you have everything you want in life. What keeps you motivated?
"A good fight keeps me motivated. That's why I seek the best out there. I wanna fight the best out there. It keeps me motivated just getting another belt. There's a lot of things that keep me motivated now. Just try to work more things out. But it's still difficult if you're doing this for quite a while, and being on top for a bit, your mind starts to think differently."
How did you get started in boxing?
"My brother (Glenn) was boxing before I did. My grandfather, my uncle, my dad were fighters. My brother started a year before I did, and he was winning trophies. I kind of wanted to win trophies, because he had all that attention. That's when I started. Literally, I pissed in my pants my first fight, man. I didn't know what to do. I was so scared. I was 11, and it's so funny, because it was kind of like riding a roller coaster. First time you ride a roller coaster, you're standing in like, and you're like, I gotta piss, damn, I gotta piss, then you start pissing yourself. That was me going into that fight. There was a click, there was a switch that just came on automatically, and then next thing you know, I was fighting like I was fighting for my life."
You were talking about your child and everything, how much more special does this weekend feel, the Fighter of the Year, a big fight that will maybe elevate you even more? Does that make it more special?
"It makes my life satisfying. I can sleep at night and say, man, I've done so much for myself. I've done so much in the boxing world, I've done so much for my life that I could only dream about when I was ten. For me, it makes it more special. But again, now the most special thing for me is my baby, looking forward to that. It's amazing."
I was gonna say, with the baby on the way, it's good to be Nonito Donaire.
"It's the best to be Nonito Donaire right now."
Can you talk about (something about the Philippines)
"There is a lot of pressure in that, but I try not to think about that. I am blessed that the Philippines and the whole nation is supporting me. All I can do is give my best. I want to encourage all the other fighters out there to keep working hard, to keep winning, but one thing that I do is, if I can win every fight, if I can just keep doing my best, I think that's more than enough to say thank you to the Philippines. I just gotta keep doing it, man."
You are the poster child for the anti-doping testing. Do you feel there are a lot of boxers out there that are using enhancements?
"I think there's a few out there that are doing it. If other sports -- if you already know the advantage of using, you already know the advantage of being on it. People like to take advantage. It's just in our nature. There's good people and there's also not as good people out there. I believe that in every sport there's a few out there that are taking advantage of other people."
How many times were you tested?
"For this fight, I think five times. ... Those are VADA tests, random tests."
Do you feel that this was the greatest period in Philippine boxing history, the last 20 years, and do you feel that you are the last bastion of that era?
"You can say that for this era, but I think that there's just a lot of kids coming up in the Philippines now who are just incredible fighters. The Penalosas are names out there, but there's other guys out there from the ALA gyms that are tremendous fighters as well. This is just the beginning of it. Pacquiao started the path I'm walking, and I'm pushing that path to the other kids out there who are going to come up and push that path farther."