Donaire marching toward Fighter of the Year

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Donaire marching toward Fighter of the Year

Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

At times, San Leandro’s Nonito Donaire feels like he can’t please anyone at all.

“You can never make everybody happy,” Donaire said before his latest junior featherweight title defense against Jorge Arce this Saturday at Houston’s Toyota Center (HBO, 9:30 p.m. PT).  “But as long as everybody’s happy in my camp, the people that I care about, the people that care about me, [and] my fans, I’m just going to fight whoever is given to me.”

At last year’s annual Boxing Writers Association of America meeting in Las Vegas, I stated my case for Andre Ward’s worthiness for Fighter of the Year, and I thought it was a good one, because he ended up winning.  Donaire, who has made the final cut of five nominees this time around, shouldn’t be too hard on himself, especially given what he’s accomplished over the past 12 months.  

In an age where it’s customary for elite boxers to only appear one to three times a year, Donaire (NorCal No. 2; 30-1, 19 KOs) will be gunning for his fourth win of 2012 against Arce, a former 122-pound beltholder from Los Mochis, Mexico.

“[Arce] knows he can’t beat me by boxing and keeping his distance for 12 rounds,” Donaire said.  “It’s going to be a war.”

Moreover, Donaire’s quality of opponents during that stretch is nothing to scoff at, with Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., Jeffrey Mathebula, and Toshiaki Nishioka (former or reigning titleholders with a combined ledger of 86-8-6) all incurring decisive defeats at the hands of the 30-year-old East Bay product.  In doing so, Donaire answered several doubts about his skills along the way.  



There were questions about Donaire’s power carrying over from 118 to 122 pounds; in February, Vazquez ate the canvas thanks to a signature left hook from “The Filipino Flash.”  Qualms surfaced in July about Donaire’s ability to deal with a taller fighter in the crafty 5’10’’ Mathebula, so he broke the South African’s jaw.  

Perhaps the most impressive performance of all came in October against Nishioka, the top-rated junior featherweight in the world.  The Japanese southpaw, wary of Donaire’s power, refused to engage and glued his right hand to his face in an effort to deter his foe from throwing the left hook.  

But like any great champion, Donaire made the necessary adjustments, and patiently waited on his opponent to make a mistake.  Sure enough, Nishioka finally decided to lunge toward him in the ninth round, and whiffed.  Moments later, Nishioka found himself knocked out—with a Donaire straight right hand no less.

“People can say, ‘Oh, Nonito’s going to have a hard time with this guy,’ and then when I do something that they didn’t expect, they’re like, ‘Oh, that guy was too short,’ or when I fought someone taller, ‘Oh, that guy was too weak,’” Donaire said.  

Now his detractors wonder why he hasn’t faced the other two beltholders left in the division, Abner Mares and Guillermo Rigondeaux.

“When I beat Mares, they’re going to be saying, ‘Oh, he’s an up-and-coming guy.  He’s slower for the Flash,’ or with Rigondeaux, ‘Oh, he’s too short.’  You’re never going to satisfy those critics, no matter what, but I’m there to fight anybody.  I want to be undisputed at 122 [pounds],” Donaire added.

So Donaire’s been active and he’s beaten some very good competition.  Is that all?  Actually, no. One could argue that his actions outside the ring are what have set him apart from the field this year.

In July, Donaire became the first fighter in the history of combat sports to submit to year-round random drug testing administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).  In the midst of high-profile fighters like Lamont Peterson and Erik Morales testing positive for banned substances in recent times, it was refreshing to see someone take the lead in cleaning up a sport in desperate need of more than a spitshine.

“I do it for my own reasons, for my fans, and for my beliefs,” Donaire said.  “But aside from that, I’m just there to do the things that I do best, to go in there and work hard and prove to everybody that whatever God has given me is all that’s in there.”

Last week, Juan Manuel Marquez unveiled an uncharacteristically chiseled physique, and the 39-year-old found the fountain of youth by scoring a shocking Knockout of the Year against Manny Pacquiao.  But despite his monumental victory and elevating consideration for Fighter of the Year, many inquiries have surfaced about the process by which Marquez has attained his newfound strength.  

Marquez’s strength coach, Angel Heredia Hernandez, admitted in 2000 to supplying track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with performance-enhancing drugs. Since that event, Hernandez has claimed to have gone clean and stated that he has been working with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for the last six years.

Marquez is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the most precise pugilists in the sweet science; his work ethic is a big reason why I shouldn’t have any reservations about whether or not he’s juicing.  In addition, both Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach—who said he would kiss Marquez’s behind if he were “natural”—and strength coach Alex Ariza refused to diminish Marquez’s triumph by lobbying any further PED allegations after the loss.  In fact, Nevada State Athletic Commissioner Keith Kizer said both fighters passed their prefight and postfight drug tests.

But it must also be said that peeing in a cup mere hours before and after a fight leaves a lot of leeway before that brief window for anything to occur.  And in a modern landscape where cheating is rampant in a multitude of sports, the absence of random testing over an extended period before competition makes it downright impossible to determine who is clean as a baby’s bottom—and that goes for anyone, not just Marquez.  As my friend Norm Frauenheim of 15rounds.com eloquently penned, “In the court of public opinion, however, the negative result won’t allay the suspicions.”

And while Donaire initially took some heat for deciding to work with nutritionist Victor Conte, who did prison time for his own PED-related transgressions as founder of the infamous BALCO, the pair have soundly silenced their critics by not only verbally pushing for the most stringent testing available, but by actually putting it in practice.  

A frustrated Donaire took to the Twittersphere Thursday night: “Latest Drug testing results are in blood and urine. Results are NEGATIVE. I'm pretty disappointed that no other professional boxer has submitted themselves to 365 24/7 testing with Vada (the only organization that has effectively caught people who are cheating). What do you guys think stops them?”

Is there a connection between last week and this week’s fight?  Well, Hernandez is also Arce’s strength coach, although the fighter said earlier this week that the two men did not work as closely for this camp.  

The 33-year-old Arce (61-6-2, 46 KOs), a tremendous brawler in the lower weights who was built quite a following over the years for his devil-may-care style, has made no secret that he plans to go toe-to-toe and feels sturdy enough to withstand Donaire’s power.  

“My left is very strong.  My right is very strong.  I can knock him out with either hand,” Arce told BoxingScene.com.

Fully cognizant of what lies ahead, Donaire has prepared accordingly.

“I’ve been sparring bigger guys—guys at 130, 135,” said Donaire, who has mainly been trading leather with Sacramento’s Guy Robb and Redwood City’s Jesus Partida.  “They’re pushing me, and I’m able to push them back.  I’m able to handle their strength, their power, their weight.  I’m expecting a tough fight.  Regardless of how the fight’s going to be.  It can be an easy fight, or it be can a tough fight, but I’m ready for whatever [Arce] gives me.”

As Donaire demonstrated in the Nishioka fight and his two highlight-reel knockouts of Vic Darchinyan and Fernando Montiel, pressing forward plays right into his hands, and Ring Magazine’s panel of experts has subsequently picked “The Filipino Flash” to win by a resounding 13-0 margin.  A staggering 11 of them (myself included) don’t see it going the 12-round distance.

On the other hand, Marquez was a 3-to-1 underdog before blasting Pacquiao; can Arce repeat the trend?  

“The last time I was in Texas, I beat Vazquez pretty clearly and one of the three judges still gave him the decision,” Donaire said.  “That’s why I want to knock Arce out.  I want to give the fans what they want and I want to keep it out of the judges’ hands.”

Spoken like a man who knows what he has to do to secure Fighter of the Year honors.


REGION 11 AMATEURS SHINE AT STATE SILVER GLOVES

A new crop of champions were crowned at the 2012 California State Silver Gloves, which took place at the South El Monte Community Center in Southern California earlier this month.  The winners advanced to the Regional Silver Gloves in Pasadena on January 3-6, 2013.  Here’s a list of Senior Division champions from Region 11, the area encompassing Northern and Central California.

GIRLS (14-15):
106 lbs.: Caroline Riojas (Central; Velarde’s TC, Fresno)
112 lbs.: Odalys Camacho (Central; Ten Count BC, Bakersfield)
119 lbs.: Iris Contreras (Northern; D.F. Boxing, Richmond)

BOYS (14-15):
80 lbs.: Peter Tavares (Northern; Unattached, Gilroy)
95 lbs.: Fernando Venegas (Northern; Golden State Bloodhounds, Sacramento)
119 lbs.: Ruben Villa IV (Central, Back Yard BC, Salinas)
178 lbs.: Suray Mahmutovic (Northern; 415 BC, S.F.)


THE SPITBUCKET

49ers running back Frank Gore gave his vocal support to Donaire this week, posting a YouTube video with local videojournalist Ken Guanga…Watsonville’s Carina Moreno became NorCal’s sixth reigning world champ with an upset of Susi Kentikian in Germany by split decision for the WBA flyweight title…Super middleweight king Andre Ward’s promoter Dan Goossen informed me that the Oakland star doesn’t need surgery on his right shoulder and will return in February or March… Promising prospect Omar Henry, who relocated to the Bay Area last year, is in good spirits after a recent trip to the hospital revealed he has cancer.  The way “O.” fights, cancer doesn’t stand a chance…Promoter Don Chargin is trying to bring boxing to Redwood City.  South Bay is a fertile ground for fight fans.  I’d love to see it… For those of you hoping to see Guillermo Rigondeaux call out Donaire on Saturday, he’ll have to do it from a ringside seat.  His opponent, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, tested positive for HIV and the fight is off…If either of the TV bouts on TeleFutura ends in early stoppage, I hope Jonathan Chicas-Moris Rodriguez gets on the tube.  That’ll be a good one…Former Region 11 amateur star and 2012 U.S. Olympian Jose Ramirez of Avenal needed all of 125 seconds to win his pro debut on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard…Fresno’s Gary Salazar might be the next to follow in Ramirez’s footsteps.  He raised some eyebrows by advancing to the quarterfinals at the AIBA Youth World Championships…Don’t miss the CBS main event Saturday afternoon.  If you like fighters with a hellacious body attack and can finish with the best of them, watch Leo Santa Cruz.  The kid’s a whirlwind…My picks: Donaire in five, Amir Khan over 12, Alfredo Angulo in two, and Paul Mendez in 10…The final list of nominees for the 2012 CSNBayArea.com NorCal Boxing Awards will be released next week.  If you would like to nominate someone, my contact information is below.

CSN Bay Area Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and panelist for Ring Magazine’s Ratings Board.  E-mail him at rmaquinana@gmail.com, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

Warriors officially ink six players to new contracts

Warriors officially ink six players to new contracts

The Warriors re-signed free agents Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia and David West to contracts, the team announced on Tuesday.

Curry, 29, averaged a team-high 25.3 points per game (10th in the NBA) in 2016-17 to go with 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.81 steals (seventh) in 33.4 minutes over 79 games, earning All-NBA Second Team honors. The two-time MVP led the league in three-point field goals for a fifth consecutive year, following his NBA-record 402 threes in 2015-16 with 316 triples in 2016-17, including an NBA single-game record 13 threes on Nov. 7 vs. New Orleans. Curry upped his averages to 28.1 points, 6.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds in 35.4 minutes over 17 games in the 2017 postseason, helping Golden State capture its second title in three seasons. In eight career seasons with the Warriors, Curry owns averages of 22.8 points, 6.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.79 steals and is the franchise’s all-time leader in three-point field goals (1,917, 10th in NBA history).

Durant, 28, tallied averages of 25.1 points (13th), a career-high 8.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, a career-high 1.60 blocks (ninth) and 1.06 steals in 33.4 minutes over 62 games in his first season with the Warriors in 2016-17. The 6’9” forward earned All-NBA Second Team honors after hitting a career-best 53.7 percent from the field and becoming the first Warrior to average at least 25 points and eight rebounds per game since Rick Barry in 1966-67. Durant led the Warriors in postseason scoring with 28.5 points per game to go along with 7.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.33 blocks in 15 games, scoring at least 30 points in all five games of the NBA Finals on his way to Finals MVP honors. Durant joined Michael Jordan as the only players to earn NBA Finals MVP honors with averages of at least 35 points (35.2), eight rebounds (8.2) and five assists (5.4).

Iguodala, 33, averaged 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.00 steals in 26.3 minutes over 76 games for the Warriors in 2016-17, while shooting a career-high 52.8 percent. A 13-year NBA veteran, Iguodala led the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.50) and was a finalist for 2016-17 NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors, leading all reserves in plus/minus with an on-court differential of +6.9. The 2015 NBA Finals MVP scored a playoff season-high 20 points in Golden State’s series-clinching Game 5 win over Cleveland in the 2017 NBA Finals, hitting 9-of-14 from the field in 38 minutes.

Livingston, 31, shot a career-best 54.7 percent from the field and posted averages of 5.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 17.7 minutes over 76 games in 2016-17. The 13-year NBA veteran upped his accuracy to 57.6 percent from the field in the postseason, averaging 5.2 points over 14 games and scoring in double figures three times (twice in the NBA Finals). Livingston owns career averages of 6.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 698 games with nine different teams, including three seasons with Golden State.

Pachulia, 33, averaged 6.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 18.1 minutes over 70 games (all starts) in his first season with the Warriors, while hitting a career-high 53.4 percent from the field. The Georgian native led all centers in plus/minus (+6.0) and led the Warriors with 140 offensive rebounds in 2016-17. In 15 postseason games (all starts), Pachulia averaged 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.1 minutes, scoring in double figures four times. For his career, Pachulia owns averages of 7.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 961 games over 14 seasons with the Magic, Hawks, Bucks, Mavericks and Warriors.

West, 36, tallied averages of 4.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 12.6 minutes over 68 games in his first season with the Warriors. The 14-year NBA veteran was one of only four players to play in all 17 of Golden State’s playoff games, averaging 4.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists, and 13.0 minutes in his eighth career postseason appearance. A two-time NBA All-Star, West owns career averages of 14.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 961 games with the Hornets, Pacers, Spurs and Warriors.

Golden State Warriors media services

Draymond Green faces lawsuit: 'I still feel his hand on my jaw'

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USATI

Draymond Green faces lawsuit: 'I still feel his hand on my jaw'

Draymond Green, a star forward for the Golden State Warriors, was slapped with a lawsuit Tuesday.

Jermaine Edmondson and Bianca Williams brought claims of physical assault, bullying and misleading statements against the professional basketball player stemming from two incidents in Michigan last summer, according to lawyer Lisa Bloom, who is representing the accusers.

The first sentence of their lawsuit claims that "Draymond Green is a bully."

"The filing of this lawsuit was a last resort," Bloom said. "Mr. Green has refused to accept responsibility for his conduct and so we will ask a jury to educate him and hold him accountable."

The incidents of alleged violence occurred last July in East Lansing, Mich., which is the home of Green's college alma mater. Edmondson alleges that Green bumped into him at a bar and bullied him with a demeaning comment about being a scholarship athlete who Green is paying for. 

Green then turned to his entourage, according to Bloom. That's when two men with Green allegedly pushed Edmondson against a wall and choked him, according to Bloom. Williams tried to intervene, but one of the men grabbed her by neck and also pushed her against a wall.

"I still feel that man's hand around my neck and it will forever be traumatizing," Williams said.

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