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Mark F. Villanueva

List of Articles by Mark F. Villanueva


By Mark F. Villanueva
20 Apr 2016

The luncheon at the Waterfront Hotel with Nonito Donaire Jr. and his team was delayed and ended at around 3pm, and the rest of our evening was spent with his Hungarian opponent Zsolt Bedak at the Parklane, where the brief transition of events made me realize the difference between the two prizefighters was almost as clear as night and day.

It was an informal get-together, but on our way to the buffet table, Bedak’s movements seemed to me quite calculated and businesslike, contrary to Donaire’s usual flare of flamboyance.

I asked him how he got the nickname Mr. Left Hook and he said his friends started calling him that after he had knocked out an opponent in Germany that astounded the audience and it stuck with him since. He did not mind this, but would rather be known as himself. There was almost no trace of a change in his demeanor in saying this, so I didn’t catch it as a sign of self-confidence or mere humility, only an admirable trait.

Standing opposite each other with an interpreter much taller than both of us I wondered how Bedak would cope with Donaire’s advantage over him in height and speed. I raised my arms with my hands just around chin level and nearly tapped his ribcage with my clenched left hand, and while motioning, inquired if he was going for an in-fight or be an out-boxer when the day comes, yet he shrugged these factors off as immaterial in degree. He plans to fight the Filipino both ways alternately.

Zsolt Bedak appears to be a well-balanced fighter being an amateur standout, having won medals in European championships. As an Olympian in Athens in 2004 he beat former world champion Abner Mares.

Flambouyant Donaire teaches kids the basics of boxing during his workout at the Robinson's Galeria.

Reserved and business-like Bedak (C) talks to reporters at the Parklane Hotel.

I’ve heard how many regard Zsolt Bedak as an easy opponent for Nonito Donaire. And if you’ve watched the latter’s performance against Juarez there should be no doubt of his renewed commitment to the sport after having fought it out with an unrelenting foe as he did with an injured ankle. When he first came in for the luncheon it was apparent that his reputation preceded him. He looked stronger as he’d ever been and talked about the future, even mentioned Lomachenko along the way with the savviness of a fighter who had been to the top of the rankings and knows in his own way that he still belongs there. But with the little we know about Zsolt Bedak… the less we know, the more he must be regarded as a threat. That generally did not seem the case.

Bedak fights with both arms up, with a decent defense and offense. Having a broad amateur experience he should be sound with the basics, therefore, should never be mistaken as a basic fighter. It is possible that Nonito Donaire would focus on attacking his body early on to soften up his defensive style, but it does not seem that easy to perpetrate with Bedak’s footwork. He might jab him frequently so he expects it, then he could feint this and use his lead hand for a hook, while being wary for a counter hook of his own. Donaire is the more versatile fighter of the two, but Bedak’s foundation as an amateur should serve him well too. The main concern at this time is that the weather in Cebu might drain him leading up to the fight so he shall have lost it way before the bell sounds.

If there is one thing that connects both fighters so they are not disparate, it is that they have both fought and lost to Guillermo Rigondeaux. When I asked Bedak about this, he answered me directly with his interpreter behind him, that the Cuban was his toughest bout in terms of style. He did not utter any complaint as most boxers do of his awkward fighting ways as he looked back at it objectively, exuding an impression that he had indeed lost against him in a convincing manner. He was resigned to his loss that now belonged to the past, while Nonito Donaire Jr. talked about the same thing looking forward with searching eyes, scouring for redemption. Their differences in outlook made me see clearly that night as if by day.

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