SAN DIEGO – July 7, 2012 – As popular and admired around the world as boxer Manny Pacquiao is, fans must accept he has more of his boxing career behind him than ahead of him. In the Philippines, where he is also a sitting Congressman, it is hard to imagine anyone taking Pacquiao’s place.
Is it possible that Nonito Donaire is the next Manny Pacquiao? A lot of people want to think so, and make the rest of the world think so. The “Filipino Flash” is an exciting fighter whose style is not all that different from Pacquiao. He is a four-division world champion, and says he’d eventually like to win six divisions. But Donaire isn’t the next Manny Pacquiao. He’s the next Nonito Donaire, a unique athlete who deserves a following on his own merits.
This Saturday, July 7, Donaire faces South African super bantamweight Jeffrey Mathebula in a bout at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California (greater Los Angeles area). Donaire (28-1, 18 KO), has knocked out ten of his last 12 opponents including the impressive second round knockout of champion Fernando Montiel in February 2011, considered one of the top bouts that year. Donaire has earned his way into the top of the pound-for-pound best ratings. In his last fight in February 2012, he won a split decision against Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr.
Donaire weighed in Friday at 121.4 pounds officially, and Mathebula weighed in at 121.8 pounds for their fight, both making the limit.
At the weigh-in the South African 2000 Olympian champion Mathebula (26-3-2, 14 KO), showed he is a shockingly tall fighter for this division. Some say he’s six feet tall, others list him at 5-10. Either way he towers over Donaire by at least five inches. Donaire’s trainer Robert Garcia says they like the matchup, saying that Mathebula’s defense is poor and Donaire will take his left hook and body shots to him. Mathebula has fought 39 more rounds than Donaire, but he’s only had two fights outside South Africa, and Johannesburg isn’t Los Angeles.
Mathebula says he’s a smarter, slicker fighter than Donaire; Donaire says he’s trained harder than ever for this bout. He says he’ll use whatever tactic works, whether speed or strength, and feels comfortable adjusting if necessary during the bout.
The referee bears mentioning: Californian Pat Russell was involved in calling a TKO decision for Chad Dawson over Bernard Hopkins in February 2011, until the California State Athletic Commssion overturned Russell and called it a no-decision. To his credit, Russell changed his mind after reviewing video. I’ve known him for years to be a fine referee and judge. Still, Donaire can take matters into his own hands with a clean knockout.
Donaire needs to be flashy and live up to his nickname by demonstrating his speed and power while pleasing the crowd to keep up the level of excitement he created against Montiel, instead of the dull decision he had in his last fight against Vasquez. It’s likely to be an enjoyable fight to watch, which will help Donaire make his case for being the next fighter popular well beyond the sport of boxing once Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather retire. Donaire promises a tribute to Bruce Lee with his attire as he enters the ring Saturday.
The undercard fight also looks to be a crowd pleaser. Kelly Pavlik (39-2, 34 KOs) will take on New York native and firefighter Will Rosinsky (16-1, 9 KOS), in a 10-round bout at 168-pounds. Yes, you read that right: Rosinsky works full time as a firefighter and is a boxer on the side. He is a former U.S. national amateur champion. If he wins, firefighting might get put on hold.
Both fighters had bouts less than a month ago, both winning. Neither of them are much interested in defensive skills, and they should come right at each other. Pavlik is working in Oxnard with trainer Robert Garcia, also the trainer of Donaire. Pavlik and Rosinsky each weighed in at 168.2 pounds today.
The bouts will be shown on HBO’s Boxing After Dark at 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Battle of Bern will take place. OK, I admit it doesn’t sound quite as exciting as “The Thrilla in Manila” or the “Rumble in the Jungle,” but the fans in Bern, Switzerland should turn out 30,000 strong at the Stade de Suisse for the heavyweight contest between Wladimir Klitschko (57-3, 50 KO) and Tony Thompson (36-2, 24 KO).
On July 4, 2,500 fans showed up to watch the fighters show off their skills in a public workout outdoors at the Bundesplatz in Bern. Photos and video are posted on Klitschko’s website; you’ll also see trainer Emanuel Steward in the ring with Klitschko.
This is rematch of a 2008 fight; Klitschko knocked Thompson out in the 11th round. It’s not likely Thompson, 40, has improved his skills significantly since then. Klitschko is in little danger of losing. I’d say no danger, but it’s not smart to take anything for granted in boxing these days.
In the U.S., the fight will be seen on the Epix network and on EpixHD.com. Note the early hour of the fight due to the time difference to Switzerland.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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