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Donaire stronger than ever


PhilBoxing.com



Nonito Donaire, Jr. (left) and trainer Tony Diaz.

Nonito Donaire, Jr. expects to be stronger than ever with Mexican mixed martial arts guru Tony Diaz as his trainer when he takes on defending WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali of France in a scheduled 12-round bout at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson City, near Los Angeles, on May 29. The consensus is if the fight goes the distance, Oubaali wins but if it doesn’t, Donaire will be back on the throne.

It’s a crossroads engagement for Donaire who at 38, will try to turn back the hands of time to add another crown to his collection. Retirement is far from his mind and what’s motivating Donaire to soldier on is the prospect of unifying the 118-pound division. If and when he dethrones Oubaali, Donaire hopes to either bait super WBA/IBF champion Naoya Inoue into a rematch or face the winner of the Aug. 14 duel between WBO ruler JohnRiel Casimero and regular WBA beltholder Guillermo Rigondeaux. Inoue and Rigondeaux hold wins on points over Donaire so revenge will be his battlecry if ever they meet again.

Oubaali, 34, is a two-time Olympian who turned pro in 2014, 13 years after Donaire made his debut. That explains why despite only a four-year age difference, the Frenchman has logged 17 fights compared to Donaire’s 46. Experience is clearly on Donaire’s side but Oubaali will enter the ring a lot fresher in terms of mileage. Donaire’s power is a huge equalizer and whether or not Oubaali can take his punch is a question mark.

To prepare for Oubaali, Donaire has been working out at the Givans Taekwondo Academy with Diaz in Las Vegas. He plans to motor to Los Angeles three days before fight night. Diaz, 37, will be joined in Donaire’s corner by cutman Mike Bazzel, chiropractor Dr. Cameron Fort and the fighter’s manager/wife Rachel. Bazzel, 58, has been with Donaire’s team since 2009 and last year, was holed up in the Top Rank bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for nearly two months.

Oubaali went down with COVID-19 last year while Donaire turned in a positive result later found to be false, causing the cancellation of his fight against Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez for the interim WBC title last December. “We are under a more ethical company for testing,” said Donaire’s wife. “We test this week then every week following a bubble. Jun (Donaire) is more motivated now than ever before. Training has been great. Jun did 10 rounds of sparring last Tuesday then 12 last Friday. His power is really strong right now.”

Promoter Tom Brown won the purse bid for the fight with an offer of $401,000. As champion, Oubaali will receive $216,540 and as challenger, Donaire will pocket $144,360. But there’s a bonus of $40,100 allocated for the winner. “Oubaali and Donaire have been preparing to face each other for a year now so you know these two warriors will be ready to let their fists fly once the bell finally rings on May 29,” said Brown. “Oubaali has proven himself a force at bantamweight and will have a chance to reach a new level with a victory over Donaire.” While Oubaali is undefeated, Donaire checks in as a former IBF/IBO flyweight, interim WBA superflyweight, super WBA/WBC/WBO bantamweight, IBF/WBO superbantamweight and super WBA featherweight champion.


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


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