Used to stepping into the ring as the taller fighter, Nonito Donaire will be in an unfamiliar territory on his next fight when he defends his World Boxing Organization super bantamweight title against the much-taller African Jeffrey Mathebula.
Despite the huge height advantage against the 5’11 African, Donaire remains confident that he can defeat the International Boxing Federation champion in their title unification bout on July 7 at the Home Depot Center.
The 29-year-old Filipino champion has sparred and will spar against much-taller opponent to familiarize himself and be ready against Mathebula, whom he has a lot of respect because of the previous fights of the African champion.
“I have a lot of respect for Mathebula,” Donaire said. “He’s a lot taller than me at 5-10 so we’ve brought in two 5-10 spar mates to work with. I can’t take Mathebula lightly. Mathebula is slick and a skilled boxer. The fight’s a big challenge for me.”
Mathebula, who is a former Olympian, is coming off a title-capturing victory against fellow South African Takalani Ndlovu last March. Although Donaire posses a much better record, Mathebula’s promoter Branco Milenkovic is confident that his ward can pull off an upset against the Filipino fighter.
According to Milenkovic, he will not agree to fight Donaire if he believes that Mathebula has no chance of beating the man called “The Filipino Flash”. Milenkovic vowed that the South African will come out with his best performance to give Donaire a run for his money.
Donaire has much to lose compared to Mathebula for he is lined up to face bigger names like WBC super bantamweight titlist Toshiaka Nishioka of Japan and Mexican warrior and former champion Jorge Arce, but Donaire reiterated that he is very focuses with his upcoming clash with the African.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on Mathebula,” said Donaire when asked about the possible big-name bouts after Mathebula. “My focus is winning by fighting my fight. I’ve got to be at my best to beat Mathebula.”
Donaire will be defending his title for the first time after capturing it when he bested Wilfredo Vasquez Jr on February in San Antonio.
Photo Credits: ESPN.com