SAN CARLOS, Calif. – Nonito Donaire bounced around his gym “Undisputed” in Northern California with a resistance band attached to his waist, the other end fastened to a foundation column 20 feet away. “The Filipino Flash” danced side-to-side, circled, and threw punches, mimicking his track work with renowned sprint coach Remi Korchemny, who has worked with numerous U.S. Olympic athletes dating back to the 1970s.
Donaire (29-1, 18 knockouts) is readying for his toughest test to date on this Thursday afternoon, a match with Japan’s Toshiakai Nishioka, a man who hasn’t tasted defeat in over eight years. The bout will be for the vacant RING 122-pound championship, but Donaire is as confident as ever as he approaches the fight at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. on Saturday (10 p.m. ET, HBO).
“He’s a smart guy, but I think I’m a genius,” Donaire proclaimed to RingTV.com. “He’s going for the home run, I’m going for the grand slam. If he gets a lot of strikeouts, I’m getting a shutout. I just have that positivity, that mentality that I can conquer whatever he gives out.”
The 29-year-old Philippines native knows he hasn’t fought someone like Nishioka and noticed a few things on tape that impressed him.
“He’s strong. He has a good straight power punch and it’s really clear he can knock people out with that straight punch,” admitted Donaire. “I’ve never fought a guy who can knock guys out with just one punch. [Vic] Darchinyan was powerful but it takes him a long time to knock people out. He drains, he tires them out before he knocks them out. With this guy, he can take you out [the same way] I take out guys. This fight is definitely interesting but I know I can do the same things and beyond.”
The resistance band training followed a spirited 10-round sparring session (his last session of camp): six rounds with three-time Detroit Golden Gloves winner Erick DeLeon and four with Oxnard, Calif.-based lightweight Oscar Diaz.
Everyone is aware of Donaire’s athletic gifts, but DeLeon was surprised by his mental strength in the squared-circle.
“He makes me think a lot in there, he’s a really smart fighter,” said DeLeon, who plans to turn pro before the end of 2012 at either 130 or 135 pounds. “He punches hard, he’s got great speed. I’m learning more and more every time I spar with him. His hook’s great, he’s getting his right hand sharper. He’s good at everything. He can box, he can bang. He punches you from different angles so you gotta be aware all the time.”
Diaz echoed DeLeon’s sentiments.
“It was very hard sparring. He’s quick, he’s fast and he hits hard, too,” said Diaz. “His right hand surprised me and his hook was good too. He surprised me with his punches.”
Donaire has been working with Korchemny and supplement guru Victor Conte since his December 2010 fight with Volodymyr Sydorenko. How many miles does Donaire run per week? 25, maybe 20? Try zero. He’s seen great results, abandoning running for sprints, which develops fast-twitch muscle rather than slow-twitch muscle fiber. Coupled with a specialized nutrition program with Conte, Donaire has seen performance gains in the gym and in the ring.
“He introduces a lot of positive mentality and the scientific ways of working smart, rather than working hard,” Donaire explained. “You have to work hard, but you have to work smart as well. Before I met Victor I just did the traditional [workouts]. Now I do a lot of physical training , a lot of strength training. Most of all we’ve done things that are smart. Putting the right stuff in my body, recovery, and knowing that recovering is as hard and as important as training hard.”