Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Famed Mexican-American trainer Robert Garcia, who owns a flourishing boxing academy in Oxnard, California, has heralded a fighter from his stable as boxing’s next superstar. Two-weight world champion Nonito Donaire can be “my next Joe Frazier, or my next Muhammad Ali,” a kindled Garcia stated this week. Donaire is on the cusp of transcending his popularity due to a highlight-reel knockout win over a previously unstoppable Fernando Montiel last year.
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Donaire will hope for improvement upon New York performance. Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank
A ferocious puncher in the lower-weight classes, Donaire (27-1-0, 18ko) has two stoppage victories that are regarded to be the best of the years they were triumphed in. In 2007, against teak tough Armenian, Vic Darchinyan, Donaire did the unthinkable and forced a fifth round technical knockout win over a fighter who still, to this day, has gone the distance with every other fighter he has been in the ring with. Four years later, Donaire repeated the feat against Fernando Montiel, crashing the resilient Mexican onto the canvas inside two rounds.
This brace of knockout wins punctuates other solid wins over Luis Maldonando, Moruthi Mthalane, Hernan Marquez and Vladimir Sidorenko, however, Garcia believes that the 29-year-old, who has won full world championships at flyweight and bantamweight, has “unlimited potential”.
Speaking to The Ring, he continued: “Nonito is very strong and talented. He’s so fast, so powerful when he gets into the ring that he could be my next Joe Frazier, or my next Muhammad Ali but that’s only something that we’ll see in the next few years.
“Nonito has had a great year this past year, but it’s only the beginning. No one knows what he can bring yet. Nonito’s got dreams. So there is nothing that can stop him. Nonito has all of the talent and the potential to be among the greatest. That would be something great for my career as a trainer. There is no telling what honour he can bring to himself and to me, as well.”
Donaire, though, fought just twice in 2011 and his most recent performance, a decision win over Omar Narvaez, was underwhelming, largely because of the stringent door-bolt defence employed by the Argentinean. The Filipino Flash wants to box at least four times in 2012 and already has his next bout booked, against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, a Puerto Rican prizefighter who formerly championed the WBO super bantamweight title.
The WBO belt at 122lbs is now vacant and will be awarded to the winner of February 4 fight, staged at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Garcia believes fans will be able to see the Donaire of old – the switch-hitting, made-for-TV, headhunter – rather than the one who was unable to score a knockout over Narvaez in October, 2011. Whilst admitting Vazquez would represent a “tough” challenge, Garcia said: “This will be a fight where I think that you will see the best out of Nonito, and that he will succeed in. He’ll come out with a win.”
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