SAN CARLOS, California -- Everyday, big dreams are made in a small boxing gym in San Carlos, California.
And for this 28-year-old Filipino, making his come true may just be a matter of three more weeks of intensive training.
Bohol native Nonito Donaire started boxing professionally in 2001.
He just recently became bantamweight.
And despite securing a flyweight title, he has yet to knock out an opponent that will earn him the respect of critics who doubt that he can ever make it on their pound-for-pound list.
"Before ang palaging sinasabi sa akin, takot 'yung kalaban," Donaire said.
"Takot ‘yung kalaban sa akin at naghahanap ng malaking pera so parang ‘yung promoter ayaw naman nilang bigyan kasi hindi naman tama na maliit bigay sa akin tapos malaki bibigay sa kanila," he added.
On Febuary 19, all that will change.
Nonito will battle Mexico's Fernando Montiel, who, unlike him, wears two world bantamweight belts.
For someone who dreams of becoming the Philippines' next Manny Pacquiao, losing is not an option... Not even in his dreams.
“Before ‘pag natutulog ako, nakikita ko na na-knock out ko si Montiel,” said Donaire. “Kasi pagkatapos ni Montiel, dalawang belt na ‘yun. WBC [World Boxing Council] at WBO [World Boxing Organization]. So isang belt na lang para maging undisputed ako.”
His hard work is slowly paying off.
And his wife, Rachel, makes sure Nonito keeps his eyes on the prize.
Distractions are blocked, spammed and deleted.
“There's admins on his Facebook and on his Twitter. If there's anything negative we delete it… I think anyone would be affected if they hear that their parents want them to lose,” said Rachel.
The family drama that revolves around Nonito and his father-trainer has been played out in media long after they split professionally.
Disagreements over money and getting big fights have stymied his growth in the past, but he wouldn't have that now.
“After the fight, whatever the outcome, if they want to scream from the top of the mountains the wrongness that they feel has been done to them then by all means but for now I’m just asking for closure on the topic and allow us to concentrate on the task at hand,” said Rachel.
The fight that many say will change Nonito's future has already changed his present.
He will make $375,000 in his February 19 bout, and that pay scale would continue to rise should he remain undefeated after that.