Manny Pacquiao is the most well-known Filipino boxer, but Bay Area-based Nonito Donaire (fights out of San Leandro) has quietly rolled up a 28-1 record and emerged near the top of the super bantamweight rankings. This weekend, Donaire will square off against Jeffrey Mathebula at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The fight will air on HBO at 10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT and will be a co-feature alongside Kelly Pavilk vs. Will Rosinsky.
This fight is of note for 49ers fans because running back Frank Gore will carry Donaire's WBO super bantamweight belt to the ring during introductions. If you've caught a Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather fight, you might have noticed various celebrities involved in the pre-fight pageantry. The relationships have built through a variety of means, with the most prominent probably being 50 Cent accompanying Floyd Mayweather to all his fights.
I learned of Gore's plans to accompany Donaire through Steve Kim of MaxBoxing.com. Upon following up with Kim, it turns out that Gore and Donaire have been working out together under the guidance of "track guru" Remi Korchemny. According to Kim, this training began six weeks ago and Kim believes this could put Gore in the best shape of his life.
I'm doing some more research because this strikes me as an intriguing development. Gore is fighting off a pair of young running backs in Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James. If he can get into better playing shape, maybe that can hold off some of the knicks and dings that have slowed him down at times in recent season.
Based on my discussion with Steve Kim, these workouts also feature the guidance of Victor Conte. Although Conte is most well known for his involvement with Barry Bonds and the BALCO scandal in the early part of the '00s, numerous professional athletes (particularly boxers) continue to consult with Conte and his team.
Just to clarify, I referenced the BALCO scandal because that is what Conte has become most well known for among many general sports fans. And considering we're talking about a Bay Area based team, Bonds and BALCO is the first thing many folks think of with regards to Conte. I do NOT think there is anything shady going on. I simply wanted to address that before the discussion veers down that path.