Nonito Donaire worked out before the media and fans on Saturday at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn and we were there to take video. It was a fitting setting, considering that nearly every great fighter over the last 50 years has trained there. Those are the kind of expectations attached to Donaire.
There was a moment during the workout that illustrated why boxers are differently from most athletes. Donaire was shadow boxing in the ring and while doing so, he would morph into the styles of famous fighters. He would shout out to the crowd, "Who am I?" He did great imitiations of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mike Tyson and Roy Jones. He then started taking requests from the audience. But what was even cooler was when his wife started passing around his championship belts for the people at ringside to photograph and hold.
There were no overstuffed body guards watching over the belts. No paranoid press hacks. Just the fans, the fighter and his wife. Imagine if the Heisman Trophy winner passed his award around to the student body? Or if Derek Jeter took the ball from his 3,000th hit and tossed it back into the stands?
Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) defends his WBC and WBO bantamweight titles against Omar Narvaez (35-0-2, 23 KOs) Saturday, October 22, in the Theater at Madison Square Garden.