Nonito Donaire admits that he let himself slip in the ring last year (and perhaps before that), and says that his training for Saturday's clash in Macau with WBA featherweight champ Simpiwe Vetyeka has been focused on getting back to what he does best, and taking full advantage of his skill set.
"Last year I got away from what made me successful and I paid the price for that when I met Guillermo Rigondeaux. And even when I knocked out Vic Darchinyan in our rematch last year, that wasn't the best me," Donaire said.
The fighter added that training in the Philippines with his father has been a blessing. Donaire had been working with Robert Garcia, but spent most of his camp away from Garcia, which many observers and media had logical questions about over the last couple of years.
Donaire, 31, is also continuing the media spin that he and Top Rank are putting on, calling himself the underdog. In reality, Donaire is a 4-to-1 favorite for the fight as of this writing, but the mindset for his camp seems focused largely on being counted out.
"It's been a long time since I entered a fight as an underdog but that has inspired me more. I re-evaluated everything. I moved my training camp to the Philippines to take advantage of the heat and humidity and to eliminate the distractions I had in Las Vegas," he said. "It was a great move. I let a lot of things I worked hard to achieve slip through my fingers last year. I want to return to where I was in 2012 and go beyond that for the remainder of my boxing career," he said.
Donaire (32-2, 21 KO) may not truly be the underdog, but one thing is for sure, and that's that Vetyeka (26-2, 16 KO) is no pushover. "I had to work on a lot of things in camp because Vetyeka is so multidimensional inside the ring. He's dangerous and has a lot of weapons," said Donaire.
"His last two fights were knockout victories of Daud Yordan and Chris John. Those are two tough guys. But I am confident I have the game plan and the talent to beat him. There is no doubt that May 31st at The Venetian Macao is going to be my finest hour."
Donaire's father, Nonito Sr, believes they've focused on the right things, and hopefully have moved him away from an increasingly one-dimensional style that has hindered his recent performances.
"Nonito got away from what made him great - his speed and footwork in combination with his power," the elder Donaire said. "Last year he just came forward, didn't move his head and relied too much on his power, and that's exactly the wrong way to fight a pure boxer like Rigondeaux as we all saw.
"This camp we went back to Nonito's bread and butter - creating a mix that combines speed, movement and power. I have never seen a fighter work harder and totally dedicate himself to his tasks than Nonito did during this training camp," he added.