Nonito Donaire of the Philippines lacks the two world title bantamweight belts belonging to his Feb. 19 opponent, Fernando Montiel of Mexico, but he does have the awareness to recognize what the 118-pound bout at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas means.
"The little guys have been deprived of getting big fights on HBO," Donaire (25-1, 17 KOs) said Tuesday at a news conference at the downtown Biltmore Hotel. "This is our shot."
The Filipino is riding the momentum of three 2010 stoppages, including a superb Dec. 4 fourth-round knockout of former world champion Wladimir Sidorenko at Anaheim's Honda Center. As a result, Donaire, 28, has landed the first bantamweight main event on HBO since 2006 against Montiel, a respected veteran who's been a world champion since 1999 — two years before Donaire's pro debut.
Donaire is a 2-to-1 favorite to beat the 31-year-old Montiel, according to Las Vegas sports books
Donaire hails from Manny Pacquiao's hometown of General Santos City, and recognizes the road Pacquiao traveled to superstardom — win repeatedly and impressively against respected opponents.
"I know what to do," Donaire said. "I want to see where my talent takes me and if it's beyond Montiel. Boxing is a different game for me now. I have a nutritionist, a sprint coach, a strength coach, doing good things to make me as good as I can be."
Donaire's promoter Bob Arum mentioned world featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez as a possible future opponent.
Montiel (44-2-2, 34 KOs) won all four of his 2010 fights by knockout or TKO.
"This is a rare opportunity that I have to take advantage of," said Montiel, who noted he was told after a 2006 loss to Jhonny Gonzalez at the Home Depot Center in Carson that he'd never be back on HBO. "It's a question of me being able to get [Donaire] to fight my fight, to not let him think, to not let him do anything.
"My experience — 21 world-championship fights — is important. I'll be intelligent. I'm a smart fighter."