Boxing legend Nonito Donaire is backing Carl Frampton to make history on Saturday night by becoming the first Irish fighter to win world titles in three weight classes.
Frampton, who outpointed Donaire in 2018, will bid to dethrone WBO world super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring in Dubai and while Donaire expects it to be a tough fight he believes the Belfast man has the skill and guile to take the belt.
Donaire knows all about moving up weights at the elite level, having started off as a flyweight and landed titles all the way up to super-bantam.
Following the loss to Frampton he returned to bantamweight and defeated Belfast's Ryan Burnett to win the WBA title before losing it in the 2019 fight of the year to Naoya Inoue.
While he stays in shape waiting for another title shot, he is eagerly anticipating the clash between Frampton and Herring, which is being screened live on Channel 5.
"I'm excited for Carl, it's a great opportunity and I think it could be an incredible fight. It's a tall order for Carl but not impossible and I think that his body punching will be the key in this fight," said Donaire, speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph.
"This is a fight that can go either way, it depends on strategy and who imposes their will early on. I've experienced going up the weights and taller guys like Herring are always more durable but they are vulnerable up close.
"A lot of fighters can take big hits to the head but body shots can take away your soul as much as you want to get up."
Donaire added: “Carl also has great head movement and if Carl can get inside Herring’s lengthy jabs then he can be very effective against Herring. I’ve sparred big guys all my life and dropped them with body shots.”
While Donaire would love to see Frampton triumph, he nevertheless believes that Herring is a real threat to the Belfast man’s dream of another world title, having won belts at super-bantam and feather.
Donaire added: “You can’t doubt Herring’s ability, he is still proving himself and is a dangerous guy. He has been fighting to prove himself and that won’t change, he may even be a bit hungrier. He wants Carl’s name on his resume.
“If Herring is going to win then he needs to use his jab and speed and stick with that but it’s whether Carl allows him to.
“Carl has great skill and experience and he can change things in a fight. He has this ability to change his plan and there’s no doubt it’s within his power to win this. A lot of people don’t get the chance to be a three-weight world champion and enter that legendary status.”
Watching from his home in Las Vegas, Donaire will be backing the Jackal and then he hopes to continue his own bid to add even more great moments to a career that has been blessed with so many. Despite losing in that brutal battle with Inoue, he is eager for a re-match with the man they call ‘The Monster’.
“We had a great fight that felt like it was part of a Rocky movie. It felt like it brought my youth back.
“Nobody thought I had a chance against Inoue and it was very close. Hype can raise you or drop you.”