Nonito Donaire may employed a new trainer just three weeks ago, but rumours of his imminent replacement in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) have been greatly exaggerated. On course to make bantamweight for the first time in seven years, so he can challenge WBA Super champion Ryan Burnett in their WBSS opener in Glasgow on Saturday, the former four-weight world ruler is defying the scuttlebutt that suggested he would be unable to reach 118lbs and find himself replaced by reserve Paul Butler.
“I honestly don’t know where those rumours came from,” laughs a cheerful Donaire, showing few signs of jetlag having arrived in the UK last Thursday (October 25), nine days before the fight. “We have a close gym, no one comes in or out apart from our people, so I think it might just have been hype from the reserve guy’s camp.
“I was worried two months ago so I started training and training to get my weight down, but it’s been easier than I thought. I am where I belong right now, I sound good, I feel good. It’s refreshing that I’m just like everyone else now, cutting down a bit rather than eating to make weight. 118lbs is a weight I can make comfortably, and my power is still there. I’m sparring some of the same guys as I was at 126lbs, now I’m walking around at 122-123, and I’m still very scary; I will definitely be the stronger man against Burnett.”
Another change, since the beginning of his training camp is the main man in the corner. New coach Brandon Woods unfortunately had to deal with a family emergency and veteran mentor Kenny Adams – with whom Woods has long worked closely – was drafted in. Not the worst substitute given the forthright Adams has trained multiple world champions and boasts decades of experience.
“Brandon had a family emergency, but him and Kenny work together,” Donaire explains. “Kenny taught Brandon how to be a coach anyway, all he learned was from Kenny. Kenny and I always wanted to work together, and things happen for a reason. He’s doing a fantastic job, there is great mutual respect between us; it just works. Knowledge is one thing he definitely has, so him being the main guy in the corner on Saturday is a bonus. He’s been here before, and he’s looking at his 27th world champion right now. It’s a blessing for him to be around.”
Burnett vs Donaire is part of a WBSS doubleheader at the SSE Hydro, with unbeaten super-lightweights Josh Taylor and Ryan Martin also going at it, and reserves Paul Butler and Viktor Postol on the undercard. The veteran Filipino is confident of both an entertaining match and a victory that may prove unpopular in the arena.
“Burnett is a smart, rugged guy and I don’t doubt what he’s capable of,” Donaire admits. “So I will use everything in my capabilities to take that away. Speed and power are the keys. Power and excitement is always gonna be me, so the fans are gonna have a good time.”