Donaire seeks second 122-pound crown
Filipino Flash plays 'aggressor' vs Mathebula
MANILA, Philippines – Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. goes for a second world title in the super bantamweight class when he collides Saturday (Sunday in Manila) against little-known but potent Jeffrey Mathebula of South Africa.
At stake in the title unification bout is Donaire’s World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight crown and Mathebula’s International Boxing Federation (IBF) title.
The battle between the two 122-pound kings will take place at the Home Depot Center in Carson City, California.
Donaire said the Mathebula fight is just a first step in fulfilling his dream to become an undisputed champion.
“My longtime dream has been to become the undisputed champion. So if everything goes well with Mathebula, then we can go and get the WBA (World Boxing Association) or the WBC (World Boxing Council) belt,” he said in RingTV.
Unlike in his previous fights, Donaire will play the role of the aggressor against the taller Mathebula.
Listed at 5’10”, the South African champion is expected to use his longer reach to stay away from 5’6” Filipino, who is known for his crippling left hook.
“I don't think that I've ever fought a guy where I had to be the aggressor coming forward throughout the whole fight, but this may be the first time, and I may have to go the distance,” said Donaire.
“I've always been the counter-puncher or the boxer and backpedaled and used my legs. So this is going to be an interesting fight. It's a territory where I've never been before.”
Realizing the potential
Sport analyst Kevin Iole said the Mathebula fight is the perfect opportunity for Donaire to show fans what he’s made of.
Iole, who writes for Yahoo! Sports, said Donaire appeared listless during his bouts against Omar Narvaez and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
He said fans are waiting for the Donaire that demolished Fernando Montiel Jr. in just two rounds.
“Mathubela hasn't faced anyone remotely near Donaire's quality… The challenge for Donaire is to prove that. If Mathubela resorts to survival mode and tries what Narvaez did, or takes his foot off the accelerator like Vazquez did, Donaire needs to be able to adjust,” said Iole.
“Superstars take these kinds of opponents out, and Donaire is a budding superstar.”
But Mathebula wants to spoil Donaire’s grandiose plans in the super bantamweight division.
He told LA Times that it will only be the Filipino’s second fight in the 122-pound division.
"He wants to attack," Mathebula said. "OK, attack. I'll hit him with my jab, and I'm not sure he can get his jab to me being the smaller guy.”
“He had power in lighter weights, but what about my power? I've been here 11 years. This will be his second fight at 122. And now he faces the champion."
The Donaire-Mathebula fight card will be aired by ABS-CBN Channel 2 on Sunday, starting 10 a.m.
There will also be replays on Studio 23 on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and Balls Channel on July 13 (Friday) 6 p.m.