MANILA, Philippines - Filipino-American boxer and world bantamweight champion Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire said his sparring with countryman and pound-for-pound king Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao was a learning experience.
Donaire revealed in an interview with Boxing Insider that he sparred with Pacquiao back in the year 2001, when Pacquiao was fighting at the bantamweight level and was preparing for his bout against then-champion Lehlohonolo Ledwaba of South Africa.
"I was 108, he was 122 before the Ledwaba fight. He came up to my parents and said, 'Your kid has a lot of potential,'" Donaire said of Pacquiao.
Donaire said he and Pacquiao sparred at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California.
"He was helping me out a lot, fighting lefties, which I didn't understand back then. It was a great help and learning experience," he added. "That's why he was teaching me all that stuff back then, because he did see a lot of potential in me."
Donaire said he did "pretty well" in sparring against Pacquiao, who was a world champion at the 112-pound division at the time.
"With my speed, it was something on par with his speed. So I did pretty well in that sparring, but I didn't go beyond that," he said.
Donaire is set to defend his bantamweight titles against Omar Narvaez of Argentina on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Theater in the Madison Square Garden in New York.