Strength and conditioning guru Victor Conte, the onetime BALCO Bad Boy who now shows fighters how to maximize their performance on a strictly legal basis, told me Monday that the natural progression for “Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire Jr. is to inch up from bantamweight to the 122 pound weight class.
I wrote on Sunday night that it’s my opinion that the speedy Donaire should forget the super bantams and get busy next with the top featherweights, commercially viable guys such as Yurioroksi Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez.
But the expert and former Tower Of Power band member and jazz musician thinks I hit a sour note.
“He’s going to the higher weights, I just got off the phone with Nonito,” Conte said from his Bay Area home. “There was something imprecise with the scales they used in New York because Nonito came in so light (116 1/4 pounds). I think other fighters’ weights were imprecise also.”
Donaire went into the ring, where he shutout Argentina’s Omar Narvaez over 12 desultory rounds, about 130 pounds.
Conte said the eight month layoff caused by Donaire’s contract tussle with promoter Top Rank saw the Fil-Am fighter balloon up to 140 pounds.
“You lose your physical momentum with that long a layoff,” Conte said. “Nonito needs to fight more frequently than that and I’m sure he will now.
“It will be easy for Nonito to now make 122. Taking a month off now, he’ll stay around 130 and it will be easy to come down to 122. Then we can from there. This time, it was a bit difficult to push back down to 118.”
Noting that athletes, including fighters, are usually at their physical peak in the 28-30 age range and that Donaire is 28, Conte said he thought taking the weight off burdned Doniare’s legs.
“It’s stress on the body and the place it shows up is the legs,” Conte said. “The legs are the last part of your body to bounce back and it’s hard to be optimal, to be 100 percent.”
Conte said he gives his specialized advice but that it’s Donaire who calls the shots.
“Nonito will have all his speed and power at 122 or at 126 pounds,” Conte said. “He will match up with any of the featherweights and maybe even a bit higher in weight.
“Nonito takes his counsel from his team, which is a good team, and then he makes the final decisions. I think he makes good decisions.”
He won an easy decision over defensive Narvaez but it was hardly must see boxing TV.
Conte sees more scintillating fights down the line.
“Nonito is a smart fighter, very intelligent,” Conte said. “He will strong, maybe stronger, and just as fast in the higher weights.”