Nonito Donaire goes in-depth on his training in Oxnard, trying to regain his drive, the importance of a Rigondeaux rematch, and more
Nonito Donaire following his training in Oxnard, Calif. (Photo: Chris Robinson – www.HustleBoss.com)
By Chris Robinson
If you walk into trainer Robert Garcia’s personal gym in Oxnard, Calif. late in the afternoon these days you will be able to spot a new face in the facility, as former multi-division world champion Nonito Donaire has dived back into training.
Donaire is coming off of a unanimous decision loss to Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux this past April and will be looking to get back on track come Nov. 9 with his rematch against Armenia’s Vic Darchinyan.
And while Garcia has been in the corner of Donaire for nearly four years, this marks the first time that the Fil-Am star has left the comforts of his training bases in Northern California to embark on a full-fledged regimen in Oxnard.
Following an intense sparring session with upcoming prospect Rudy Ochoa, I was able to sit down with Donaire and pick his brain on a variety of subjects.
Read below for Donaire’s thoughts on what it’s been like training in Oxnard, why he’s still hopeful for a match with Abner Mares, how he is hoping to restore his hunger as a prizefighter, the importance of avenging the Rigondeaux defeat, and much more.
Getting used to his new surroundings…
“It’s good, actually. Robert’s gym is an amazing gym. It’s spacious, it’s nice, but most of all the atmosphere; everybody’s a fighter here. Champions and up and comers. And the atmosphere, just the mentality of it all. It’s incredible, it’s different.”
Why he isn’t overlooking Vic Darchinyan…
“He’s always going to be a dangerous guy, because no matter how old you get, you’re always going to have that power. Like Azumah Nelson. Azumah Nelson always had that power and he was always a dangerous fighter. With Darchinyan, he may not be the same physically but he’s still strong and he’s still a dangerous opponent. And that’s one thing we can’t look past.”
Breaking away from the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos for this camp…
“They are my family. Those guys are my family. For now it’s just more of searching; what can inspire me? What can get me in better shape? This is the first time I tried out here and so far it’s been good. My guys will always support me. Again, it’s just more of searching for me what is better. I want to be on top and in order for me to be on top I can’t be sitting idly.”
Thoughts on Abner Mares’ upset first round knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez last month…
“Everybody can get hit with something like that. He apparently got hit with something as powerful as Gonzalez’s punches, but that fight doesn’t really make him who he is. He’s always going to be a champion; he’s always going to be that person that made it on top and beat everybody in the division. Hopefully he can get the title back and we can make it happen. But it’s not really our choice. We always can say we want to fight each other. We already know we want to fight each other. It’s just, the promoters and the networks need to somehow make it happen. It’s just a difficult situation. Fighters are not what they are, what people think they are. We don’t get that option.”
More thoughts on the promotional war between Top Rank and Golden Boy and how it’s impacted the sport…
“In a way. It’s unfortunate, because there’s good [fighters] from both promotions. They can make incredible fights. And hopefully they can make it happen, because regardless of what the network does for us, I’m always thankful for them. They make the fights happen for us, they give us an opportunity, and we’re happy with that. Ultimately, the people, the fans are the ones that are getting out of the fight. For us, we want to fight the best out there. But if not, we still get the opportunity and I’m always thankful for HBO and for Top Rank as well. Likewise with Mares and his promotion and network. Again, it’s pretty much the people who miss out on it. For us, we’re just happy to be back in that ring.”
Looking to regain his drive…
“I’m getting old man. I’m waking up and I’m hurting all over the place. They can say I’m still young, yeah I’m 31, but for a lot of Asian guys, we get old fast in boxing. Usually you’ll see guys at 30 and they’re done. I’m at that age and I’m turning 31 in November. I still feel good; I think it’s more of the drive. When I was talking to Robert here, when I was younger and I was coming up in the professional level, my mind was ‘I want this; I want that.’ My mind now is, I’ve got to change it because I know it’s not there. The drive is not there. That’s something that me and Robert were talking about, that we’re creating that drive back. I shouldn’t get hit with the punches that I’m getting hit with. We’re just kind of re-energizing that mentally and hopefully we can gain back the old me.”
Finding a new rhythm…
“Physically I’m good. It’s just more of the drive. I think I’m just satisfied with my life. But again, we still want the rematch [with Rigondeaux]. We want to make it happen and hopefully that drive will spark up. But I’m not sure at this point. Just the mentality, I’ve got to put it together. I want to fight Darchinyan. We want to make it happen and we want to fight the best out there. We want to get the rematch and hopefully that will inspire me to keep working hard. Just being with Robert, the guys out here, it’s brining back to when I was in the amateurs and we trained together. I’ve always just been trained by myself, so that made it hard for me to find rhythm. But now I’m finding that and I’m realizing the mistakes that I’ve been doing in the past.”
Using the loss to Rigondeaux as inspiration…
“Every fighter will always avenge something. But it’s not a thorn, because I’m using it as motivation to where I’m at. Why did I lose? Why did I fail? It’s a motivation to figure out who I am. To figure out what I need in boxing. It’s not so much a thorn, but more of a motivation. But, being a fighter, of course you want something that was taken. And that’s one thing I want. But I’m not going to sacrifice weakness for it. I’m getting older and he’s older too. So, at 126 I feel good. The way I go into that sparring session, the way I go into that fight, I want to go in that way. Not going into that sparring session and it’s a different guy in that ring. I think that has to do with just being older and I’m not the same. If it was 10 years ago, I could go down to 112. But now I can’t do that. I can see now there is difficulty losing weight. But we just want to keep moving up from this point on and keep rising.”
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