Nonito Donaire will go for a bit of history on Saturday night, as the Filipino legend challenges Nordine Oubaali for the WBC bantamweight title in a Showtime main event.
Though Donaire (40-6, 26 KO) has been in with top fighters across divisions from flyweight to featherweight in his career, the 38-year-old Filipino does not in any way underestimate Oubaali (17-0, 12 KO).
“He’s very technically sound. You can’t underestimate a guy like him who has that amateur pedigree and who has worn that belt on his waist,” he said. “We are not underestimating him. He is smart and sound, but I have the experience, the power, the speed and all the motivation to beat him. I will be looking for the knockout like I do every fight.”
Donaire hasn’t fought since late 2019, when he put in a magnificent effort in defeat against Naoya Inoue in that year’s Fight of the Year. He admits the long layoff has been “frustrating at times,” but says it’s also given him time to recover fully, and to study southpaws more than ever.
“Of all of my losses, half of them were southpaws,” he said. “I have learned a lot about southpaws during this layoff and I feel great. I feel like I could beat any southpaw at this moment.”
How to Watch Oubaali vs Donaire
Date: Saturday, May 29 | Start Time: 10:00 pm ET
Location: Dignity Health Sports Park - Carson, CA
Streaming: Showtime | TV: Showtime
Online Coverage: BadLeftHook.com
The betting odds have been something of a focus with the fight, as Oubaali — the lesser-known but younger man — is the favorite. But just as Oubaali says he won’t focus on that, Donaire says being the underdog is both nothing new and nothing he puts a lot of stock into.
“I have been an underdog a few times,” he said. “It’s a challenge for me and it motivates me a little bit but do I really care about being an underdog? No, because in my career I just make things happen. It’s not to prove anyone wrong but just to prove that I am still here. All that talk just flows past me and it doesn’t get into my head. The motivation for me is defeating this guy.”
A win would also make Donaire the oldest recognized bantamweight champion in history, beating countryman Gerry Penalosa’s record.
“Gerry is a good friend of mine. It would be so significant to me,” Donaire said. “I am still competing; I am still performing at a very high level and it proves that age is not a factor when you are healthy. When you keep yourself motivated and healthy, it all counts. I am really proud of where I’m at and what I can still achieve.”