Original Article: USA Today
By Bob Velin
July 6, 2012
As much as Nonito Donaire tries to focus solely on his opponent on Saturday night, lanky South African Jeffrey Mathebula, "The Filipino Flash" can't help but peek into the future from time to time and wonder what it will take to become the undisputed super bantamweight champion.
He looks at Mathebula (26-3-2, 14 KOs) as just the next step in his quest to conquer the division and then move on to bigger and better things.
But first things first. Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs), the WBO champion, and his trainer, Robert Garcia, know Mathebula, the IBF champion who will meet Donaire on Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. (HBO, 10 p.m. ET), will not be an easy target, particularly with a nearly five-inch height advantage.
"Mathebula is a very tough fighter," Donaire said in a news conference call with reporters last week. "He is a tall guy, the tallest fighter I will have faced and I know (manager) Cameron (Dunkin) is nervous about it. But he's always nervous. He's always looking out for his fighters, that's how he is. But I told Cameron I wanted this fight. I knew this guy would motivate me and he made me train as hard as I did. I don't know what to expect because he is so tall."
Says Garcia: "Mathebula is a great champion and he's going to try and come in and surprise us and surprise the world. (Nonito) has been pushing himself really hard to come out and put on a really good performance."
Donaire, 29, says in one breath he's eager for a knockout against Mathebula, but then in the next breath finds himself looking ahead in the super bantamweight division.
"I try not to look ahead, but I do tend to glimpse a little bit. We have (Jorge) Arce, and (Toshiaki) Nishioka, we have a lot of the guys, like (Guillermo) Rigondeaux, or (Abner) Mares, guys who hold the belts. So for me, my longtime dream growing up has always been to be an undisputed champion. So if everything goes well with Mathebula and the IBF (title), we can go for the WBAor WBC(titles).
"I think the best guy in this division who I want to prove myself to is (WBC titlist) Nishioka. I think Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) is better than all of these guys. He's proven himself in this weight class to be the real champion."
Donaire, one of the world's top pound-for-pound fighters and known for his powerful punching ability, has agreed to random blood testing for the Mathebula fight and beyond, while making it optional for his opponent.
"I wanted to show that all of the things I've done, I have done through hard work," Donaire says. "I want to show honesty towards my fans. A lot of guys have been getting caught, but I just wanted to prove to my fans that the things I have done I have done by myself."
One reason for Donaire's agreeing to the year-round random blood testing through the Volunteer Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) is because he has incorporated controversial former BALCO founder Victor Conte into his training regimen, and is eager to prove to skeptics that Conte is 180 degrees different from the Conte who was knee-deep in Major League Baseball's steroids scandal a decade ago and spent time in prison because of it.
"We have a great relationship with Victor Conte," Donaire told USA TODAY Sports last month. "I trust the man and he trusts me and we've got to a place where our chemistry has been tremendous.
"I know a lot of people are saying, 'oh, you're dealing with the devil' and this and that, but I guess I always can find the goodness in people when others can't. One thing is, I've always been open to testing, and whatever it represents to the world of boxing in a cleaner way, and that's because I've been working with Victor.
"He's a very, very intelligent man, he knows about a lot of things. There's something that intrigues him, and that's a cleaner sport. He's teaching everyone out there now how to catch people (taking performance-enhancing drugs). And teaching people how to know if (someone) is on it. I always work hard and it doesn't matter to me, but I want to prove my point that it's better to have a cleaner fight."