‘This one’s for dad’ - Donaire

SOMETIMES it takes adversity for someone to be humbled.

After suffering the first knockout loss of his career to Nicholas Walters, Donaire Jr. said he has now realized the importance of his family, friends and his boxing fans in his success inside the ring.

That aura of cockiness along with his reckless yet exciting style is all gone, for the better.

“It’s such a privilege to be here. It has been an amazing journey. My relationship with my father has had its ups and downs. Now, I realized that I want to be in this sport. It’s a big motivation fighting in front of a hometown crowd. It really feels different deep inside your heart. With gratitude there is no more fear in me. I’m a person that’s been through fear, hardships, heartaches emotionally and spiritually. I’m now a different Nonito Donaire. My motivation is the people. You all have given me my strength inside the ring. Everything then was always about me and I never gave him (Donaire Sr.) enough respect. And I want to take this moment to thank him,” said an emotional Donaire Jr. in yesterday’s final presser at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino for tomorrow night’s The Time Has Come: Donaire vs. Bedak show at the Cebu City Sorts Center.

Expect a more mature and patient Donaire Jr. who will be defending his World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight crown against former Olympian Zsolt Bedak.

“I’m five steps ahead, that’s what’s different from then and now. I’m a student. I don’t consider myself a master. I’m constantly learning, that’s what’s different,” said Donaire Jr.

Donaire Jr. wants to stay longer in the sport and at 33 years old, he’s still got a few good years in him. That’s why he wants to fight more intelligently and stay healthy by not taking any unnecessary punishment.

Despite a whole country by his opponent’s side, Bedak isn’t all bothered by hometown crowd because he has been in the same situation many times before.

“I have been in this situation before with (Wilfredo) Vazquez in Puerto Rico. In the ring it will be only the two of us and the referee. The energy outside will help Nonito but it won’t win the fight for him,” said the 32-year-old Hungarian. “I’m not expecting a knockout but I’m ready for 12 rounds.”

Donaire Jr. is 36-3 with 23 knockouts, while Bedak is 25-1 with eight knockouts.

Unlike the main protagonists, unbeaten prospect Mark Magsayo (13-0, 10 KOs) and former world title challenger Chris Avalos (26-4, 19 KOs), who are fighting against each other for the vacant WBO International featherweight belt in the main supporting bout, got heated.

“I believe I can beat him. He has his weaknesses. I too am experienced like him. I fought since I was eight and I have a lot of experience as an amateur,” said Magsayo. “I don’t feel any pressure at all. I saw his fights and I believe I can beat him. My message to him is good luck.”

Magsayo and Avalos had a heated exchange of words and also had an intense stare down, while posing for the cameras.

“I’m here to fight. I have a game plan. I used to look for the knockout. Now, I wait for them. If it comes, it comes,” said Avalos, who believes that he’s back to his old dominant self.

Undefeated Aussie prospect Paul Fleming (21-0, 14 KOs) trades leathers with Mexican Miguel Angel Gonzalez (22-7-1, 12 KOs) for the World Boxing Council (WBC) Continental Americas super featherweight belt in the co-main event.

In the undercard, WBO No. 1 ranked light welterweight Jason Pagara (37-2, 23 KOs) squares off with Mexican Miguel Zamudio (35-8-1, 21 KOs), 19-year-old prospect Jeo Santisima (9-2 , 8 KOs) locks horns with Thai hard-hitter Tabthong Tor Buamas (14-3, 12 KOs) and two-time world title challenger Rocky Fuentes (36-8-2, 21 KOs) is up against Romnick Magos (12-5, 7 Kos).

Brad Jacobs, Top Rank even producer, promised that this won’t be the first and last collaboration between Top Rank, ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN here in the Philippines.

“It’s a great turnout. The fans, the sponsorship, the TV is there. Absolutely, we will return.”

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