Donaire meets Mathebula in unification showdown

Filipino star Nonito Donaire, unbeaten for more than 11 years, will face South Africa's Jeffrey Mathebula on Saturday in a super bantamweight world championship unification fight.

Donaire, 28-1 with 18 knockouts, has won 27 fights in a row since 2001 and will make the first defense of the World Boxing Organization crown he won last February in a split decision over Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Vazquez.

Mathebula, 26-3 with two drawn and 14 knockouts, is making the first defense of the International Boxing Federation title that he won last March in South Africa with a split-decision triumph over compatriot Takalani Ndlovu.

The bout is the first step in what Donaire hopes will be a unification march through the division.

"The motivation is in my heart to work toward my dreams," Donaire said. "To be a unified champion, then challenge anyone out there and make it undisputed, is a dream and hopefully I can make it happen.

"We're going to take them and I am going to keep all the belts. Mathebula is the IBF guy and he is an incredible fighter and we can't look past him. He is a tall guy, the tallest fighter I will have faced."

Also on Donaire's hit list is unbeaten World Boxing Association super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, a 31-year-old Cuban who is 10-0 as a professional and won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004.

Mexico's Abner Mares owns the World Boxing Council super bantamweight crown but the man he replaced as champion, Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka, will be at ringside on Saturday hoping for a bout with Donaire before retiring.

Nishioka, a 35-year-old southpaw, is 39-4 with three drawn and has won 16 fights in a row since last losing in 2004 to Thai legend Veeraphol Sahaprom.

For now, "Filipino Flash" Donaire has plenty to worry about in Mathebula, nicknamed "The Mongoose".

"I'm taller than him. I'm smarter and I think I'm faster," Mathebula said.

Donaire expects Mathebula will bring the fight to him.

"He's going to use his range and his height. He is going to go out there and throw combinations," Donaire said.

"But we are in tremendous shape and ready for anything. That's why we are very confident. No matter what he brings to the table, we are ready for it."

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