There have been days — recent days — when the drive has abandoned Nonito Donaire.
And admittedly so.
“With [Toshiaki] Nishioka, I’d get up, I’d train,” said Donaire, who lives and trains on the Peninsula. “This time, I just don’t feel that motivation. I just need to spar, because I can’t even hit the mitts without feeling bored, or feeling tired.”
It’s seems an unusual thing to say, especially for a man who is considered a devout practitioner of pugilism. But an ordinary opponent can sway a boxing man to say — and feel — such things.
And Jorge Arce — whom Donaire will fight Saturday in Houston — is ordinary.
Bluntly put, the rowdy Mexican cowboy has quite a penchant for bleeding, not the slightest semblance of defense, and is as offensively reckless as his alias — “El Travieso,” which roughly translates to “The Naughty One.”
“Arce is a tough guy, don’t get me wrong. But there’s no excitement in terms of strategy,” the junior featherweight world champion said. “It’s just pretty much, ‘You’re gonna hit the guy.’”
And hit the guy Donaire (30-1, 19 KOs) plans to do. A lot.
“He’s gonna be the predator in this fight,” Donaire said. “But in a way, I’m a predator myself. When I see an opening, that’s something that I’m going to take. It’s kinda like smelling blood. And we go out there and go for the kill.”
An opening is what “The Filipino Flash” saw just two months ago when he brilliantly dispatched Nishioka with a single straight right hand to the jaw, robbing the Japanese fighter of his ability to continue beyond the ninth round.
But Donaire didn’t exit that contest completely unscathed. While training for Nishioka, Donaire injured his left hand and aggravated it further during the bout. Eight stitches were required to seal the gash across his knuckle.
“It’s good,” he said of the hand. “I don’t think it’s a 100 percent yet, but it’s good enough for me to not worry about it.”
He shares that same sentiment about Arce (61-6-2, 46 KOs). And while he is the current ruler at 122 pounds, there are others — titlists Abner Mares and Guillermo Rigondeaux in particular — vying to force him from his throne, before what seems an inevitable move to 126 pounds.
“It might be a long, long negotiation. But we do want to make that fight,” Donaire said of Mares, who is managed by a rival promoter. “I think he’s the worthier fighter. Not that I won’t fight the other guy [Rigondeaux]. He has a belt. I want to take it away from him.”