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Donaire to unravel new tricks


PhilBoxing.com




Nonito Donaire, Jr. wouldn’t reveal what he has in store for defending WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali of France when they clash at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson City, near Los Angeles, this morning (Manila time) but said “what excites me is the fact that things I haven’t been working on before but did early on, I have fine-tuned during this pandemic and can’t wait to show it.”

Donaire, 38, is on a mission to unify the 118-pound championship and the first step is to dethrone Oubaali who’s making the third defense of the crown he won by outpointing Rau’shee Warren in Las Vegas in January 2019. Oubaali, 34, is a two-time Olympian and a late bloomer, making his pro debut in 2014 when he was 27 and Donaire had already logged 34 fights. The plan is whoever prevails will face either the survivor of the Naoya Inoue-Michael Dasmarinas bout for the super WBA/IBF crowns on June 19 or the winner of the JohnRiel Casimero-Guillermo Rigondeaux tussle for the regular WBA/WBO belts on Aug. 14 enroute to deifying the undisputed king.

Although Donaire’s looking ahead, he’s not underestimating Oubaali. They’ve sparred in the past but that was long ago and the unbeaten French-Moroccan has since blossomed into a serious fixture in the bantamweight ranks. “Oubaali is a slick boxer for sure,” Donaire told The Star. “I sparred with him as a southpaw so as much as I saw things, I couldn’t capitalize on it because of my stance and I wasn’t even in camp when I sparred him. It was a favor because I knew his manager Mirko (Wolf). My trainer Kenny Adams at the time was against me sparring but for me, it didn’t matter if he was going to be a future opponent or not. Studying someone on tape and being in front of him are different.”

Donaire shrugged off Oubaali’s reputation as a pressure and volume puncher. “With his amateur background and his energy, he’s a formidable opponent,” he said. “I’m not taking him lightly so I made sure I’m conditioned for him to put pressure. His previous opponents never gave him a scare. So I’m not too sure he’s going to pressure as much as we’ve seen him do. I don’t see his Olympic experience as that much of an advantage. Don’t get me wrong, I respect his record in the amateurs. But staying that long in it makes certain amateur style habits that are not always beneficial in the pros.”

Both fighters are coming off over a year’s layoff. Donaire said he didn’t slack off during the hiatus. “I always look at the best of every situation,” he said. “The pandemic gave us time. It was our choice to make excuses or take the opportunity. Our family is very much into health so we stayed healthy, training, eating healthy. Working on things that I normally don’t have time to do and also giving my body the proper rest.”

Donaire’s experience is a huge advantage with 46 fights under his belt compared to 17 for Oubaali. Donaire has faced 18 former, current and future world champions while Oubaali, only two. The ability to battle consistently every round is a function of stamina and the fighter with more gas in the tank will come out on top in a war of attrition. Donaire’s power, however, is a game-changer and if he connects with his vaunted left hook, it could be lights out. The protagonists scaled 117 1/2 pounds at Friday's weigh-in. Jack Reiss of California will be the referee with Glenn Feldman of Connecticut, Alejandro Rochin of Mexico and Pat Russell of California as the judges.


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


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