Nonito Donaire faces Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7, in a 122-pound title unification bout, the main event of a double-header on HBO. He spoke with the press on a conference call this week. Below is the transcript.
* * * * *
BOB ARUM: Those who follow boxing know that the 122-pound division is chock full of superstars. We have a long list of guys who will be making tremendous fights. HBO has recognized this and will concentrate on bringing to the public the best of 122 pounds in a series of bouts. We start off with the No. 1 guy in the division, Nonito Donaire who will be fighting a title unification fight against Jeffry Mathebula of South Africa and also a world champion. Waiting out there is Guillermo Rigondeaux who has two Olympic Gold Medals to his credit and another world champion who will be fighting on the Chávez Jr-Martinez card on Sept. 15. Another champion out there is Jorge Arce. And sitting at ringside, as I understand it, on July 7, watching Nonito Donaire, will be another champion, Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan. So these are really exciting times in the 122-pound division and it all kicks off on Saturday, July 7 with Nonito against Mathebula.
ROBERT GARCIA: We'll have a great fight on July 7. Mathebula is a great champion and he's going to try and come in and surprise us and surprise the world. Nonito is training in Oxnard, California again. It is a great place where we have great people that can get behind him. People are pushing him every day and when I come in I see the results. He has been sparring with tall sparring partners and people that are a lot heavier than him. He has been pushing himself really hard to come out and put on a really good performance. We still have a few pounds left because he has built up a lot of muscle in between training camps but we'll be fine there.
CAMERON DUNKIN: Nonito's a great fighter and maybe the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I just think he is that, and he grows in weight. He just moved to 122 pounds and you see how he's doing there. He just keeps winning and now he is taking time to work on his body as he moves to the higher weights. It's going to be terrific - five, six, seven titles, who knows, when this all comes to end? It's going to be very exciting to watch him next Saturday night.
NONITO DONAIRE: The motivation is in my heart to work toward my goals and my dreams. To be a unified champion then challenge anyone out there and make it undisputed is a dream and hopefully I can make it happen. Like Bob said, there are incredible fighters in this weight class and we are going to take them. And I am going to keep all the belts. Mathebula is the IBF guy and he is an incredible fighter and we can't look past him.
NONITO DONAIRE: Mathebula is a very tough fighter. He is a tall guy, the tallest fighter I will have faced and I know Cameron is nervous about it. But he's always nervous. He's always looking out for his fighters, that's how he is. But I told Cameron I wanted this fight. I knew this guy would motivate me and he made me train as hard as I did. I don't know what to expect because he is so tall.
Could you talk about your protocol regarding drug testing?
NONITO DONAIRE: I decided to do this because I wanted to show that all of the things I have done, I have done through hard work. I want to show honesty towards my fans. A lot of guys have been getting caught but I just wanted to prove to my fans that the things I have done I have done by myself. I am a person that started with nothing. I am honest and I think it's good for the sport. I hope everyone is inspired by it to prove they are legit and that it can help the sport.
They will be doing a 24/7, 365-day random tests. So they can, at any time, be knocking on my door. I have to let them know where I will be at all times.
Is your opponent part of this also?
NONITO DONAIRE: He is welcome to do it but I don't force anyone to do it. If he agrees to it the whole boxing body needs to know about it. I invite them to join, but most importantly, I want my fans to know what I am doing.
Bob, what is your opinion on what Nonito is doing?
BOB ARUM: I first want to commend Nonito for the position he is taking. I think if you look at what is happening in Congress with the bill that Senators Reid and McCain have put in for a Federal Boxing Commission - I would hope that if we had a Federal Boxing Commission, that that commission would institute random drug testing for every single registered fighter in the United States so that we would have a system akin to what we have in the other major sports like football and baseball - under the auspices of a Federal Commission. What I am concerned about, the groups, no matter who they are, doing it without the direction of a Commission. I have heard, just like you have probably heard, where people have paid money to get exemptions for people that have tested positive. That's a little scary.
We will encourage everybody, even without a Federal Commission, VADA is a good organization to do this testing and we have to establish protocol, with VADA, who they would report to, etc. Let's say Nevada finds someone who tests dirty. Now, what happens? Who do they report it to? Is that basis enough for a Commission? What are the consequences?
Look at what happened to Peterson...
BOB ARUM: Right. And Peterson did not have a license to fight in Nevada. The same thing happened with Berto in California. So we haven't legally thought out the consequences. How is it going to be handled? It's a great thing. All fighters should be tested but we have to work out the consequences. It's easy with a guy like Tarver, who has participated in the fight, then his urine comes back allegedly dirty - that's an easy consequence. But what do you do with fighter "B" who agrees to submit and he has a dirty test? This is a new area and has to be worked out and it's a lot easier to handle with a Federal Boxing Commission.
NONITO DONAIRE: I agree with Bob. I am always willing to fight the guy. I can say even though you're on it, I can still beat you.
How has Robert helped your overall approach?
NONITO DONAIRE: Robert has been a great part of the team and he is a great leader. Usually when they panic, Robert is the guy that keeps them together. The morale of the team is incredible when he is around. He has this ability to watch the fight and be able to tell me what to do in the corner. Robert is the one that gets everyone together and keeps them cool and keeps them focused.
In you last fight there was some criticism regarding how you have abandoned your jab to throw more power punches - like Roy Jones...
NONITO DONAIRE: I love Roy, but the difference between me and Roy is I love to use my jab and I can always win that way but that fight was a grudge - his head was wide open - and I wanted to hit him as hard as I could every time. That is the difference between Roy and me -- I want to use my jab. The kid didn't want to open up and I needed him to open up. So I put my face in front of him because all he wanted to do was throw a jab. So the reason for that was I wanted to knock him out. The few previous fights I had I wanted to knock people out and that has been the reason why I had abandoned my jab and used counters more than anything. When I do go back to my jab there is no one in the sport that can match me when I do box.
I don't want it to be a long fight. That is what I'm trying to say.
How tough is it to make 122?
NONITO DONAIRE: My training has definitely changed over the years with Victor and Remy, in terms of being in the field for using strength and stuff. For many years I have not been running the traditional five or six miles that everyone does. My last fight at 122 pounds I was pretty small, I was walking at 128 pounds. For this fight I had been walking at 133 to 138 pounds, which is a big difference. After my last fight with Vazquez, I went right back to the gym to work with the weights so when I went to camp, which was two months ago, that's when I began the boxing and I was a lot bigger and stronger then the last fight. Surprisingly with the weight, it is like for me to be cutting down to bantamweight now.
Bob, you had some concerns regarding the drug testing...
BOB ARUM: I am not OK with it. Until this is quantified and handled by a legally authorized agency or a Federal Commission, you are in no-man's land. With a testing agency, a willy-nilly, which gives exemptions to certain fighters and not to other fighters, is very dangerous. We talk about a level playing field, and we're not getting a level playing field. We have to think this whole thing out. Everyone, I believe, has good intentions but it has to be done right and done fairly. Something that is not only fair to the participants but also fair to the fans. We can't let this thing be decided by demagoguery or by people making outlandish statements. It is a very serious problem and it requires a lot of thought.
Nonito has set an ambitious goal to be undisputed champion...
BOB ARUM: First of you have to understand that HBO, the premier network, and to its credit, has embraced this decision. You couple that with the technological advances that HBO is making - measuring the impact of punches, which will start at the beginning of next year. Mares is a very good fighter but he has to be willing to fight on the premier network, which is HBO, and not on the secondary network, which is Showtime. It's not a question of Top Rank or Golden Boy but it's the fact that HBO has embraced Nonito and this entire division and that's where the future is.
Do you think you can get Mares in there?
BOB ARUM: The other champion will be July 7 with Mathebula. Nishioka will be at the fight on July 7. Rigondeaux fights September 15. Absolutely. Mares is there but has got to cut the apron strings and be willing to fight in this whole series of important fights on the premier network, which is HBO, which understands how important this whole division is.
How important is it for you to accomplish those goals
CAMERON DUNKIN: Nonito is somebody who is very special to me. He's more than just a boxer. I have known Nonito for so long now and I have watched him come from him paying to fight, fighting for nothing, literally fighting for nothing. All the struggles he's had and all the things he's been through, so it's very personal for me. I want to give him these opportunities.
I didn't want to make this fight at first - I had someone else in mind - but it's what he wants and I want to give him everything possible I can and I know Bob does too. He wants to be great. In my opinion, he is already great, but he wants to be greater. I want to do everything I can to make that possible.
You were very disappointed after the Narvaez fight - what if Mathebula does not come to fight?
NONITO DONAIRE: There are things I learned in the Narvaez fight. If one is willing to not do it, I have a plan to deal with it. I am going to do everything I can to get the victory for the whole team.
BOB ARUM: From what I have seen on Mathebula, he has show that he is a fighter that engages. I understand that he is from the Zulu tribe. I have had a lot of experience with the South African fighters and they are really tough guys and they really come prepared to fight.
How has it been training in California?
NONITO DONAIRE: Being from the Bay Area, I have loved training camp here. I have Remy with the strength portion of it, which covers 60% of my endurance. Of course, you've got the good sparring out here but Remy is here to push me to go farther than I thought possible. This is a place to train hard, which is what I've always done my whole life. It's great to be back in the Bay Area. There are a lot of fans out there and a lot of Filipino fans. May first fight was in LA and there are a lot of Filipino fans out there.
How do you think Mathebula will fight?
NONITO DONAIRE: We have looked at ways he is going to fight. He is going to use his range and use his height. He is going to go out there and throw combinations. But we are in tremendous shape and ready for anything -- that's why we are very confident. No matter what he brings to the table, we are ready for it.
BOB ARUM: Thanks to the help of AEG, there is a very large concentration of Filipino people in the Carson area of The Home Depot Center and we are distributing literature and other materials to that community and we expect many to attend the event.
NONITO DONAIRE: I want to thank Bob and Top Rank and all the press for taking the time to be here. And I would like to thank HBO and all the fans out here. It's going to be a very interesting fight and a very exciting fight. So check it out. I am very excited for it.