Nonito Donaire and Nicholas Walters are headed into Saturday night's HBO co-feature fight from very different points, and their two quick interviews with Kieran Mulvaney displayed those attitudes this week ahead of the bout.
"This is our third fight together, but this will be the first time that we worked on getting back the old me. It's been great just being with my dad, and understanding my style. ... (I have) nothing to prove. From what I've accomplished in boxing, I've gone more and beyond what I expected. There's really nothing to prove at this point, it's just how far I can reach. ... Nicholas Walters, he's an incredible fighter. He has incredible power. But myself, I am one of the strongest punchers out there as well, so we'll see who's the most powerful fighter Saturday."
"You gotta come and see it. This is one for the public. The public need to come out and see this fight. The Axe Man is definitely thinking about chopping Nonito down. That's what I do. I hurt people. I'm in the hurt business. I intend on hurting him and getting him out by KO. You gotta come and see the fight. ... If he's smart, he's gonna look at my career and come hard for this fight. I know he's gonna come hard for this fight. But that doesn't say that I am not gonna stop him on Saturday night also. ... If you've followed my career, I've never had a boring fight. I'm not in it to give a boring fighter. I'm an explosive fighter, and I'm going to continue to be an explosive fighter."
This is certainly not to read too much into it, but hey, speculation is fun, and this is the internet. To me, the 31-year-old Donaire (33-2, 21 KO) sounds calm and confident, yes, but maybe a bit more content with where he's at. Does the way he responded to "Do you feel you have something to prove?" trouble you at all? Where's the hunger in that answer? There's none. "I have nothing to prove" is a perfectly valid statement -- Donaire's had an excellent career and has gone, as he says, far above his own dreams and the projections anyone ever had for him. But it's also a statement that could be coming from a seat of comfort.
Walters (24-0, 20 KO) might not be the guy to be too comfortable against. The 28-year-old Jamaican "Axe Man" is a good puncher, as we saw when he totally blew out Vic Darchinyan in May. The same Vic Darchinyan against whom Donaire greatly struggled last year before rallying for a late stoppage. Walters figures to be the hungry guy in this matchup naturally. He's done less in the sport, he hasn't had these sort of marquee fights before, and he's looking to make a name for himself and be called the best featherweight in the world. Donaire, on the other hand, has been considered the best flyweight, super flyweight, bantamweight, and super bantamweight. At featherweight, he's won another world title, but his two fights at the weight have been less than inspired performances.
Is Nonito mentally ready for what Walters can bring on Saturday? Is Walters good enough to get the job done? That's what we have to find out.