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Donaire won’t take new foe lightly


PhilBoxing.com




Nonito Donaire, Jr. isn’t taking Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez lightly as he steps up training for their scheduled 12-round fight for the vacant WBC bantamweight title at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Dec. 19. The Filipino Flash, who turned 38 last Monday, was originally penciled to face WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali in the same venue on Dec. 12 but the bout was canceled when the Frenchman tested positive for COVID-19. The WBC then listed Oubaali as champion in-recess to battle the winner of the Donaire-Rodriguez fight.

“Rodriguez is someone we can’t sleep on,” said Donaire. “We are fortunate to have the switch of opponents early to formulate a new gameplan because Oubaali and Rodriguez are so different. I’m grateful to the WBC for finding a way for fights to continue under the current circumstances we are all facing.” What makes Rodriguez dangerous is his ability to box and brawl, added Donaire. Rodriguez has a rich amateur background highlighted by winning the gold medal as a flyweight in the 2010 Youth Olympics and turned pro in 2012, 11 years after Donaire’s debut. He’s 10 years younger than Donaire.

Donaire said he was told about Oubaali’s condition two weeks ago. Throughout the pandemic, Donaire has kept in shape, working out five days a week. He now weighs 127-130 pounds so bringing down his weight to the bantamweight limit of 118 won’t be a problem. Donaire said he trains at the Givans Taekwondo Academy in Las Vegas with MMA fighter Tony Diaz. The Academy is owned by former US Army Ranger and USA Taekwondo regional director “Master” Edward Givans.

“I’m the only boxer at the Academy,” said Donaire. “Givans is on my security team and was one of (wife) Rachel’s taekwondo coaches when she was fighting. I’ve been training with my friend Tony and sparring but will bring in more sparring partners soon. We’ll do strict protocols for our sparring, including testing.” The gym is sanitized and disinfected before Donaire arrives. “We’re careful about where Jun trains,” said Rachel. “Right now, we’re discussing who will make up Jun’s team in Connecticut because the state commission has strict guidelines on who can work his corner.”

Donaire was at ringside when Rodriguez fought his last fight, a second round KO loss to Naoya Inoue in Glasgow in May last year. Rodriguez trained over two months in Cuba for the fight but it didn’t help. In 2012, he threw away a chance to fight in the Olympics after suffering second degree burns over 66 percent of his body in an accident from a prank setting an unoccupied car on fire. Donaire is out to make sure hard-luck Rodriguez stays that way when they mee


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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