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With big fights ahead, Nonito Donaire works to stay focused on Feb. 13

Win over Gerson Guerrero could set up rematch with WBA, WBC super flyweight champ Vic Darchinyan

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Las Vegas Sun

WBA interim super flyweight champion Nonito Donaire, Jr. of the Philippines listens to a question during an interview at Top Rank Gym Wednesday, February 3, 2010. Donaire will defend the title against Gerson Guerrero of Mexico City at the Las Vegas Hilton on February 13.

Donaire Media Day

WBA interim super flyweight champion Nonito Donaire, Jr. of the Philippines has his hands wrapped before a workout at Top Rank Gym Wednesday, February 3, 2010. Donaire will defend the title against Gerson Guerrero of Mexico City at the Las Vegas Hilton on February 13. Launch slideshow »

Nonito Donaire knows he should never look past the fight in front of him.

But with so many good ones just ahead, the interim WBA super flyweight champion just can't help it sometimes.

"It is hard sometimes to focus because when I spar, I see the faces of the guys I want to fight," Donaire said. "But I'm trying not to look ahead."

Donaire (22-1, 14 KO) will look to defend his interim belt against Gerson Guerrero (34-8, 26 KO) Feb. 13 at Pinoy Power III at the Las Vegas Hilton.

If he's successful, it's likely the fast-rising Filipino would move on to a rematch with WBA and WBC super flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan or possibly move up in weight to take on WBO bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel.

If all goes well, Donaire, who originally made his mark a 112-pound IBF flyweight champion, could move all the way to 126 pounds.

"Some guys can do it and some guys can't; this kid can do it," said Cameron Dunkin, Donaire's manager. "He wants to go as high as 126. I'm not that brave."

The high aspirations of climbing in weight will only come if Donaire continues to dominate fighters the way he has to this point in his professional career.

The 27-year-old fighter looked comfortable as a super flyweight in his last fight against Rafael Concepcion in August, even when Concepcion survived an early attack and became the aggressor in the later rounds of that fight.

Donaire faced a tough task in the ring that night as Concepcion seemingly ignored the 115-pound weight limit, coming in at 119 pounds.

Even though he was able to defeat the heavier fighter, Donaire says he was disappointed with the night overall and hadn't performed to his expectations.

"I'm the biggest critic of myself," Donaire said. "A lot of people thought I boxed beautifully and did what I had to do. For me, as a fighter, I was seeking something different.

"If I had fought hard and had a game plan, my mentality is I would have been able to take him out even though he was that big."

Expect Donaire to bring a similar expectation of himself Feb. 13, as he should enter a heavy favorite over Guerrero.

When asked if Guerrero poses a threat to his fighter, Dunkin was silent for a moment before offering an incredibly confident response.

"Um, he can punch," Dunkin said. "With a guy like that, there's always a threat. But I think Nonito is going to be too fast."

Even though Donaire admits it has been difficult at times not to look past Guerrero, he's not about to take a fighter lightly — something he says other fighters were guilty of when they faced him earlier in his career.

Donaire remembers there were few giving him a chance when he fought Darchinyan the first time in Bridgeport, Conn., in July 2007.

He responded that night by claiming the IBF flyweight title with a knockout in the fifth round.

"When I came in there with Darchinyan, no one knew who I was," Donaire said. "They didn't think I was going to be a big threat until I did it.

"(Guerrero) is a big threat. Anybody coming in with a big KO percentage is always a big threat. I'm going to play smart and take advantage where I can."

If Donaire defeats Guerrero, it's highly likely his next fight would be the rematch with Darchinyan.

Although Donaire has expressed he'd like one more fight at 115 pounds before taking the rematch, Dunkin said the chances the June fight will be made are "very good."

"Gary Shaw keeps calling about Darchinyan in June," Dunkin said. "Nonito says he wants to fight one more time before that but that'd be pushing it."

Donaire may find some additional motivation against Guerrero knowing that a close friend of his will be watching ringside.

Z Gorres, a fellow Filipino boxer whose career ended tragically last November when he suffered a traumatic brain injury during a bout with Luiz Melendez, is expected to attend the fight. Gorres has been in Las Vegas recovering since the injury that nearly claimed his life.

Donaire said he has plans to assist Gorres with his medical costs that have far exceeded the $50,000 for which boxing promoters are required to insure their fighters.

"The ironic thing is the first time I met Gorres was when he defeated my brother (Glenn Donaire)," Donaire said. "I was so (expletive) off I said, 'I'm going to kill this guy if he ever gets in the ring with me. As I got to know him, I became good friends with him, and he definitely has 100 percent of my support."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Also follow him on twitter: LVSunFighting.

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