Nonito Donaire has his own rematch he longs for. Before he gets there, he has to deal with the guy whose career he derailed.
On Nov. 9, on an HBO-televised card from Corpus Christi, Texas, that includes a super-featherweight world title fight between Oxnard's unbeaten Mikey Garcia and champion Roman Martinez, Donaire (30-2, 20 knockouts) will face Vic Darchinyan (39-5-1, 28 KOs) in a featherweight bout.
Darchinyan was an unbeaten world flyweight champion who spoke brashly and carried a wicked punch before Donaire recorded his breakthrough 2007 victory by fifth-round technical knockout in Connecticut.
It was Darchinyan's first loss, and it's been followed by four more as he now stands 37 years old with a final reckoning.
"Long years of hatred can make you a monster," Donaire said Tuesday at his trainer Robert Garcia's Oxnard gym. "This is his last resort. I still have my name. For him, he gets everything – the fighter who beat him, who knocked him out, an opportunity to get his name up there again. This is everything to him."
It's big to Donaire too, considering he lost his World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight title to Cuba's Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0) on April 13.
Rigondeaux out-boxed Donaire, 30, who said he's taken a sober look at how and why he lost.
"The mistake was motivation," Donaire said. "It's time to get better, correct that mistake. We're correcting it slowly, getting better all the time. It was like I was just walking without direction. I hit a wall and kept walking instead of going left or going around. I didn't use the jab. I was relying on one thing: the left hook. We're trying to correct that with combinations and intelligence."
He was also uncomfortable making 122 pounds, so he wants Rigondeaux to fight the next time at 126, something promoter Bob Arum said Wednesday he will have happen.
"It's a fight that needs to happen," Donaire said of Rigondeaux II. "I'm hoping to perform at my best this time, but there's still an old habit I have. I want to brawl all the time. Before I became a world champion, I boxed, counter-punched, had leg movement. I've got to shake off that brawling idea."
Donaire, who became a father before the Rigondeaux fight, said it's helped to have reunited with his own dad, Nonito Sr., from whom he was estranged for about five years before recently reconnecting.
The man who taught Donaire to fight is now in his son's corner as an assistant trainer.
"My dad has come in to fix everything and get me back to my old ways," Donaire said. "He's helping me get my legs and intelligence back."
Before, "it was a lot of misunderstanding, things were changing and we couldn't change. We started pointing fingers, and when you point fingers it breaks apart a relationship. Robert is still the head guy, but my dad is the one putting the game plan together."