The last presser before the Saturday card at the MSG WaMu Theater unfolded at Gallagher's in midtown today. Promoter Bob Arum, bearing down on 80 but still exhibiting ample energy and work ethic, held court, building up The Filipino Flash, Nonito Donaire, who meets Argentine Omar Narvaez.
I scoured the scene carefully, and parsed people's words and body language to see if the 28-1 Donaire is looking past Narvaez (35-0-2), who isn't a "name" because he hasn't been on US TV. It didn't look like it, or sound like it. Donaire, age 28, said all the right things about respecting the 36 year-old Narvaez, and I watched him watching the elder boxer as he took his turn at the mike. He listened to Narvaez promise that he'd go back to Argentina with Donaire's belt, and didn't tune out, play with his phone, or what have you. He looked dialed in..
Arum too played up the fact that Narvaez is no bum, and said that Argentina has a rich history of stellar boxers, some of whom he has promoted. Carlos Monzon, for one. Arum recalled that he formed Top Rank, his promotional company, ahead of the Dec. 7, 1970, scrap between Muhammad Ali and Argentina's Oscar Bonavena.
Arum explained the decision to take the California-based Donaire to NYC, instead of the West Coast. He said there are plenty of Filipinos on the area who will come out to see the Filipino-born hitter who came to the US when he was 10, and that he thinks the MSG vibe will pay dividends for the bantamweight champ.
"Narvaez is a tremendous fighter," Donaire said when it was his turn at the mike. "He knows how to win." He said he knows his country backs him, so he won't take Narvaez lightly.
• Undercard fighter Mikey Garcia attended. The 26-0 hitter who lives in Oxnard, Calif., will meet Juan Carlos Martinez (19-12-1) before the Donaire bout, and defend his NABF featherweight crown. Garcia's manager Cameron Dunkin, bless his candid soul, admitted that Martinez isn't an "A" guy, but won't be easy to beat. "A world title fight is next for Mikey after this fight," Dunkin said. WBA champ Celestino Caballero is a strong possibility.
• HBO's new director of programming, Peter Owen Nelson, did the honors for the cabler, introing the fight and plugging upcoming HBO boxing fare. Usually, VP Kery Davis does these honors, but HBO is in flux. They hired Showtime's Ken Hershman to run boxing last week, and he'll start officially, talking over for Ross Greenburg, in January. NYFightBlog asked Davis to clarify the hierarchy last week and he declined. Nelson -- hip hip hooray! -- is a writer who wrote Freddie Roach's forthcoming autobio, "It May End Up Killing You." NYFightblog aims to sit down with him in the near future and learn exactly how he went from keyboard tapper to suit.