[PHOTO - Nonito Donaire Photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank- MANILA, Philippines]

GUANGZHOU, CHINA, DECEMBER 7, 2010 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Newly crowned WBC Continental Americas bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. said yesterday Fernando Montiel will be easier to hit than Wladimir Sidorenko and looked forward to challenging the WBC and WBO 118-pound titleholder in an HBO pay-per-view card on Feb. 19.

Donaire, fresh from halting Sidorenko in Anaheim last weekend, said after beating Montiel, he’ll move up to the superbantamweight division, following in Manny Pacquiao’s footsteps to build a legacy as one of the world’s greatest pound-for-pound fighters.

Against Sidorenko, Donaire lived up to his moniker “The Filipino Flash” as he displayed blinding hand-speed and shifty footwork to deal the former WBA bantamweight champion from Ukraine his first loss by knockout. Donaire dropped Sidorenko with a right cross in the first round, a left hook in the third and finished him off with a left-right combination to the face in the fourth. Referee Marcos Rosales waved it off at the 1:48 mark with Sidorenko on one knee, blood spurting out from his nose like a faucet.

“After I landed my first punch, I knew the fight was under control,” said Donaire in an overseas phone call. “I saw he was pretty badly banged up but I had to do what I had to do. I was surprised that he wasn’t as fast as I thought he was. When he came in to throw the right, I kept hitting him with my left counter. I got him to bring down his high guard by dropping my hands. I baited him to throw punches so I could counter. That took away his defense.”

Donaire admitted being stunned by Sidorenko’s right. “I got complacent after he went down,” he said. “There are still a lot of things I need to work on in the gym to get better. The whole idea is not to get hit. I also need to work on figuring out my opponent. I felt great against Sidorenko. Bringing up my power to the bantamweight division isn’t anything new. When I started my career, I weighed 118 to 122 so I’m comfortable in this class. I feel more confident. I don’t have to lose too much weight.”

Donaire said he doesn’t expect to do anything dramatically different against Montiel. “All that head movement, going side to side and darting in and out – that’s the way I fight and I’ll do the same against Montiel,” he continued. “I don’t think Montiel will move around. He’s very stationary. He’s just looking to land his punches. I think he’ll be easier to hit than Sidorenko.”

Donaire said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who witnessed the carnage at ringside, was pleased with his performance. “Bob was happy,” said Donaire. “He’s excited to make the fight against Montiel happen.”

Donaire laughed when asked if he imagined it was Montiel instead of Sidorenko in the ring last Saturday. “I was focused on Sidorenko, nobody else,” he said. “I knew I had to win convincingly to make a statement. Montiel knows I’m coming for him. People want to see that fight. It’s all set. I worked hard for the fight against Sidorenko, knowing if I beat him, I’d go on to face Montiel. I felt I could take Sidorenko out with one punch. My respect to him for making it a fight.”

Donaire said he listened to trainer Robert Garcia’s advice to stay calm. “He wanted me to be relaxed, not to get wild,” he said. “He’s not affected at all by (Antonio) Margarito’s loss. Robert gives me a lot of confidence. He pushes me to believe in myself, that as long as I work hard, we’ll get the job done.”

Donaire said his left hand was slightly swollen after administering the severe beating on Sidorenko. “It’s my old injury,” he said. “But it’s nothing serious. It’ll be fine in a week. The swelling always happens after a fight. I’ve learned to live with it.”

Donaire and wife Rachel plan to arrive in Manila this weekend. They will stay in town for a week then fly to Tokyo for a brief vacation before heading back to the US for the holidays. Donaire said he won’t stay away from the gym too long and will work extra hard for his showdown with Montiel in February.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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