Earlier today the second leg of the Fernando Montiel-Nonito Donaire press tour rolled on to Los Angeles, California and just like the festivities yesterday in Las Vegas, there seemed to be little in terms of animosity between either man. It’s obvious that this clash, taking place on February `19th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada for Montiel’s WBC and WBO bantamweight titles, will only truly be heated when the two participants set foot inside of the ring.
Fernando Montiel first became a champion over ten years ago when he defeated Isidro Garcia for the WBO flyweight crown and following that performance he became a familiar face on HBO’s airwaves, fighting some of the most formidable little men in the sport. The last time he would see action on the sport’s premier network was his disappointing split-decision loss to Jhonny Gonzalez in May of 2006 and he seems thrilled to be back.
<— Slideshow: Montiel and Donaire press tour hits L.A.
“I fought on HBO in 2006 and people said it would be the last time. Guess what? I’m back!” an emphatic Montiel claimed of his showcase with Donaire.
The fight marks Donaire’s biggest as a professional and his first time on such a big stage since his July 2007 upset over trash-talking Vic Darchinyan. Following that victory, one in which he iced his Armenian foe with a beautiful left hook, Donaire failed to capitalize on any momentum tied to that performance and he seems to realize how bright the light is shining on he and Montiel.
“The little guys are deprived of the big promotions and we will put on a good fight. We will talk inside the ring.”
There was a definite buzz in Las Vegas at yesterday’s presser but you got the definite sense that Donaire was the star of the show, further evidenced by the betting lines that have him pegged as a nearly 2-1 favorite. I spoke with Showtime analyst Al Bernstein about the contest and he told me he has so much belief in Donaire’s talents that he sees him as the man to beat below 118 and possibly even 122 pounds.
People at the Mizuya Lounge went as far as to toss around the idea of Donarie one day facing off with WBO feathweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez, one of the more capable champions in the sports. An intriguing scenario for sure but Donaire has risky business in front of him in the form of Montiel, a tried and true veteran looking to once again defy the odds.
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]