Donaire marching toward Fighter of the Year


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 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

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.


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.)


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 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, check out his blog at, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

LeBron's triple double leads Cavs to win over Knicks


LeBron's triple double leads Cavs to win over Knicks

CLEVELAND  — LeBron James had his 43rd career triple-double, Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who raised their championship banner before the game, beat the New York Knicks 117-88 on Tuesday night in the NBA season opener.

James scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds and 14 assists in front of a raucous home crowd that was on its feet from the pregame ceremony until late in the game, celebrating the city's first championship in 52 years.

James, who spoke to the crowd before the game, continued his perfect record on ring nights. He was 2-0 when the Miami Heat players were presented with their championship rings.

Irving scored 19 points in the third quarter, when Cleveland used a 20-4 run to take a 74-53 lead. Kevin Love scored 23 for the Cavaliers.

Carmelo Anthony led New York with 19 points and Derrick Rose had 17.

Kings' Cousins has 'one goal' entering new season

Kings' Cousins has 'one goal' entering new season

SACRAMENTO -- A season without expectations. That is what everyone, from Dave Joerger to Vlade Divac, has said entering the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings season. But on the eve of opening night, DeMarcus Cousins wants no part of that.

“I have one goal, that’s playoffs,” Cousins told media members on Tuesday before the team boarded a plane for Phoenix. “That’s success for me right now.”

Cousins has never tasted the playoffs in his first six seasons in the NBA. In fact, the Kings are trying to snap a decade long drought dating back to the 2005-06 season during the Rick Adelman era.

Joerger made the playoffs the previous three seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. He isn’t ready to make promises, but he laid out his path for success this season following practice.

“The first thing we’ve got to do is learn how to compete,” Joerger said. “The second thing then is to learn how to win. We’re not a young group, so if we can get to stage one quickly, then we can can to stage two. If it takes all year to get to stage one, that’s okay, that will be a progression.”

Vegas has the Kings win total set at 34, good enough for third worse in the Western Conference. To add insult to injury, Sacramento’s odds of winning the NBA Championship are set at 500/1.

“I don’t really care what people think,” Cousins added. “I don’t care what their expectations are. I know what we’re putting in on the daily. I know we’re in here working, we’re trying to get better everyday. All we can do is worry about one another and go out and perform every night.”

The Kings will be a work in progress throughout the season. With an entirely new coaching staff and eight new faces on the opening night roster, this is a team in need of seasoning. Chemistry will take time, but this is a veteran team with plenty of experience.

“It’s a great group of guys,” forward Omri Casspi said. “I feel like once the season starts, everything will fall into play on the court as well.”

Joerger has been busy putting in his defensive principles all camp in an attempt to patch the largest hole the Kings had from a season ago. A key phrase keeps coming up when players are asked about Joerger’s style of coaching, specifically of the defensive end, where his teams routinely rank amongst the league’s best.

“The attention to details on the defensive end,” Casspi said of what Joerger has brought to the table. “We always have a guy in the way and we really play the lanes.”

Attention to detail is almost a buzzword in Sacramento. Joerger’s system is very different from what the Kings ran last season. There will still be switching, but not nearly as much. Joerger’s teams play tough, aggressive, inside-out defense. They clog the lane and protect the rim, which should play to the strengths of the roster.

“Offensively, I think we can play with the best, we’ve always been talented offensively,” Cousins said. “Defensively is where we’ve always struggled. Do I think we’re in a comfortable place? No, but I think we’re on the right path. We’ve still got a lot of growing to do.”

Cousins may feel that the Kings can score with the best, but he’s learning an entirely new system. For the first time in his career, the two-time All-Star will man the high-post on a regular basis. The offense will run through him on most plays and will be expected to become a distributor, as well as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.

“I still can play my game, be the same DeMarcus, but I think it’s better for the team,” Cousins said. “It helps our spacing. I think it plays to our advantage. I don’t think it’s a sacrifice at all.”

The offense might be perfect for Cousins’ skill set, but he’s just seeing the most rudimentary parts of the scheme at this point. With so much focus on correcting the defensive inadequacies, Joerger has hardly cracked his playbook during camp.

“About a quarter or a third,” Joerger estimated when asked how deep into his offensive sets he’s gotten so far. “It’s been tough, but I’d rather try to get better at smaller set of stuff than not being very good a whole bunch of things.”

Joerger will implement new wrinkles as the season goes on. The high-post system has plenty of room to expand as the players become more acquainted with the principles. When it’s run to perfection, this offense is pretty to watch. But even in its basic form, the high-post is an efficient and structurally sound system.

“I’m a lot more comfortable than the last time we talked,” Cousins said with a smile. “Coach has a lot, we’re learning a lot, it’s new options every day. But I’m definitely in a better place now.”

Early in the season, the Kings’ focus will be on developing and improving, not so much worrying about who the new next opponent is on the schedule. It’s been a long camp, including a week layoff between the team’s last preseason game and their first regular season game. For now, the players are just ready to get the ball rolling on a new season and dispense with facing each other in practice every day.

“I feel like it’s time to get started,” Casspi said. “We’re all excited and happy and ready to go to Phoenix.”

The Kings open on the road against the Suns on Wednesday night, before returning for their home opener Thursday evening against the Spurs. They play the Timberwolves on Saturday, but then take off on a five game road trip back east.

“Two weeks from now I’ll be begging for a practice, right now we’re all kind of begging for a game,” Joerger said.

The action will come fast and furious over the next few weeks. Eight games in 12 nights, including six road games is tough for any team. For a group that is just learning each other, the trial by fire begins Wednesday.