MACAU – Nonito Donaire Jr. wore a burgundy three-piece suit and a poker face in Thursday’s final press conference at The Venetian Hotel here.
He tried hard not to smile as his opponent, reigning WBA featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka of South Africa, beamed and sat across the head table.
“It’s the warrior’s spirit. It’s coming out now,” said Donaire of the serious look.
“My personality outside the ring, joking and smiling, is gone. It’s me, the boxer, right now,” added the Filipino, seeking his fifth world title in four different weight classes.
It’s Donaire’s first crack at the featherweight title, and on Saturday evening, at the 15,000-seat Cotai Arena, he gets a shot at Vetyeka.
“I’m focused. I want to win. I want the world title,” said the 31-year-old Donaire, two years younger and an inch shorter than the South African.
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Donaire’s father and trainer, Nonito Sr., said the former world champion in the flyweight, bantamweight and super-bantamweight trained so hard for this fight.
“He trained like a soldier. He will bring lots of bullets to the fight,” said the father up on stage.
Being the challenger, Donaire was introduced first by chief promoter Bob Arum, unlike in Wednesday’s grand arrival where there was some commotion.
Vetyeka didn’t like it when Donaire was the last to be called, and that during the foto-op for all the fighters on Saturday’s card, Vetyeka was made to stand far left.
Donaire stood in the middle and faced all the cameras.
“Nagalit sila kasi nasa gitna ako at sila sa dulo. Na-offend sila na siya una lumabas and I was last to be introduced. There’s grudge,” said Donaire.
But it seemed that Vetyeka had gotten over the incident.
During the press conference, where a lot of belts lay on the table, he looked happy to be introduced last, as the champion.
On the microphone, Vetyeka spoke confidently.
“I’m happy to be here. I will make sure I will defend my title. That’s why I’m here,” said the South African, who’s defending the title for the first time.
On his way out of the massive ballroom, Vetyeka had the belt hanging over his left shoulder. He intends to keep it.
But Donaire has plans of his own.
“Kung magawa ko game plan ko siguradong panalo. Panalong panalo yan (If I can execute my game plan it’s a sure victory). It’s just a matter of doing it right,” he said.
Donaire wants a knockout. He said he’s going for the knockout.
“Winning is important but there’s no better feeling than a knockout. I don’t predict but I want to get the knockout victory,” he said.
Vetyeka wasn’t there to listen.