LAS VEGAS – There is no rivalry between Nonito Donaire, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
In fact, the outspoken Donaire has only admiration and gratitude for his fellow champion and stablemate at Top Rank Promotions for having blazed the trail for Filipino fighters in the world fight game.
“I don’t really consider Manny a rival. Actually, it was him who trail-blazed whatever success us Filipino boxers are enjoying right now,” said the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-bantamweight king.
Donaire is a three-time world champion, a regular on most pound-for-pound lists and is at the peak of his powers. But the Taliban, Bohol native said any comparison with Pacquiao is inappropriate.
The 28-year-old said he doesn’t even consider himself an heir to the Pacman’s throne.
“I wouldn’t say I will succeed him. Manny’s on a different level. Ako naman I just always go out, do my best, and try to win as many fights, as many titles as I can,” he said.
Donaire took time out from his training camp in San Francisco, California for the press launch of his coming title defense against International Boxing Federation (IBF) counterpart Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7 at the Home Depot Center.
He arrived at the Luo restaurant of the Mandalay Bay with lovely wife Rachelle, trainer Robert Garcia and Top Rank stablemate Brando Rios.
The Filipino Flash is in the third week of training for his fight against the South African native, who is three inches taller than him at 5-foot-10.
Donaire’s busy schedule may not allow him to watch the world welterweight showdown between Pacquiao and Tim Bradley this weekend at the MGM Grand, but he is certain the Filipino hero will win the match even if, say, he is “just 80 percent fit.”
“Manny has the speed and power,” he said.
At the same time, Donaire is a good friend of Bradley and knows how hard the American challenger has worked to get this shot at a world title.
“We’re very good friends and we grew up together (in the California area). We’ve known each other since we were about 13 years old. We were together in the regional and national tournaments,” Donaire said.
“So, I know that he works really hard.”