Donaire Sr brings 'flash' to PH boxing team as consultant

MANILA, Philippines – Nonito Donaire Sr, trainer of his 4-division world champion son Donaire Jr, is bringing a “flash” of boxing insight to the Philippine team as they prepare for the final Olympic qualifier next month.

Donaire Sr, a native of General Santos City now based in San Leandro, California, has been with the team at the Philippine Sports Commission's facility in Baguio City since May 13, observing the team's preparations under head coaches Nolito Velasco and 3-time Olympian Romeo Brin.

The Philippines has already qualified two boxers so far – light flyweight Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez – for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and will send "at least 3" to the qualifier, which takes place June 16-25 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The top 5 boxers in each weight class – which include all 4 fighters who make it to the semifinals and the quarterfinalist who loses to the eventual gold medalist – will qualify for a spot in the Rio Olympics, Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) executive director Ed Picson told Rappler.

"We’re just trying to get someone from the outside to try and look at our work and see if there’s anything that needs tweaking or some adjustments," said Picson of Donaire Sr's role.

"He’s been up in Baguio, supervising and observing, making suggestions, recommendations to the coaches for the Olympic candidates for the next qualifying."

Donaire Sr, whose sons Glenn Donaire and Nonito Donaire Jr were top amateurs who made it to the US Olympic boxing trials, dismissed a report that claimed he was training the team, and that he was being paid $5,000 per month. He said his involvement ends after the qualifying event.

"I am not directly involved in the training for Philippine amateur team. I volunteered myself as their consultant. We did not mention of any financial involvement in this journey. I am here to help whatever [advice] I could give to the coaching staff," Donaire Sr wrote on his Facebook account.

Donaire Sr, who was named Trainer of the Year at the 2016 Gabriel "Flash" Elorde Memorial Awards, said he was particularly impressed by the "professional" poise and maturity of Suarez and flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, who may take part in the next qualifier. 

Picson said bantamweight Mario Fernandez and welterweight Eumir Marcial will compete in the final qualifier, with either or Roldan Boncales competing in the flyweight division. Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao, who has been extended a wild card entry to the Olympics by world boxing governing body AIBA, has been asked to advise whether he'll accept before the qualifier's submission deadline, which is Friday, May 27.