Nonito Donaire has been here before. He smiled, waved to the cameras and respectfully shook hands with his opponent on Saturday, Alexandro Santiago.
Donaire then straightened his face for a customary staredown with Santiago, 27-3-5, before turning back to the cameras for them both to pose with one fist up.
It’s all in a day’s work for the 40-year-old veteran, who has won 42 and lost seven, who has done it all, except break his own records.
And Donaire has a chance to do that against Santiago because he’s already the oldest bantamweight champion, but he will break that record if he beats Santiago for the vacant WBC title at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Santiago has his own ideas about what might happen, of course.
“I’m really motivated but it’s good because I’ve worked hard to get this opportunity,” he said.
Santiago-Donaire was due to happen a fortnight ago, but it was moved to add depth to the card in Vegas.
“What’s two weeks more,” Santiago said. “I’m really honoured to be part of a card like this.”
One man hoping to top bills again is Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz. He shared an intense face off with Freddie Roach-trained opponent Giovanni Cabrera, the 21-0 (7 KOs) Chicago hope who is hoping to block Cruz’s path to a rematch with Gervonta Davis, who outscored Cruz in 2021.
Cruz is 24-2-1, with 17 stoppages, and he said: “The people here have a very big heart and I’m happy to work hard for you all on Saturday night.”
“That’s the dream,” Cruz said of fighting ‘Tank’ again, down the line. “I want the rematch against Gervonta Davis and I’m going to show everybody I deserve to fight him
“I’ve beaten more undefeated fighters than anyone in boxing,” argued Cabrera. “And I’m here to make a statement.”
It was possibly 5-0 Cuban Yoenis Tellez who delivered the best line of the Grand Arrivals interviews when he was asked about big-fight week pressure.
“I’m going to take the nerves and turn them into happiness,” he smiled. Tellez already has another fight pencilled in next month!
His opponent, well-travelled Spaniard Sergio Garcia, 34-2, agreed with others, saying it was an honour to be on the bill, predicting that he would win. “That’s all I can do,” Garcia said.