Bantamweight champion Montiel keeps focus on Morales

Fernando Montiel has been around boxing long enough to know not to look past his next fight, understanding it’s always possible that future bout might never come.

The 30-year-old Mexican is concentrating on defending his WBO bantamweight title against Ciso Morales on Saturday at the Las Vegas Hilton, not on a potential showdown with WBA interim super flyweight champion Nonito Donaire.

"I know there are more big fights out there," Montiel said through an interpreter. "But I am not looking ahead. This is my most important fight right now, and I am concentrating on (Morales)."

Both Montiel and Donaire are part of the Latin Fury-Pinoy Power card, the latter defending his belt against last-minute replacement Manuel Vargas in the main event.

Also on the card, bantamweights Eric Morel and Gerry Penalosa meet in a 12-round WBO eliminator.

Montiel (39-2-2, 28 knockouts) has been a world champion for 10 years. He stopped Isidro Garcia in 2000 to win the title and said the status that comes with being a champ never gets old.

"It’s an important part of my life," he said. "The respect you get from everyone is important. That’s why I take every fight seriously."

Montiel said he changed his training routine for this fight, concentrating more on conditioning, building up his stamina and getting himself into better shape. His Sept. 13 fight with Alejandro Valdez ended in a technical draw after it was stopped in the fourth round because of a cut over Montiel’s left eye.

It was a tough fight for Montiel and triggered a more intense training camp.

"I always train as though I’m going to fight 12 rounds," Montiel said. "But my last fight, I wasn’t as in as good a shape as I should have been. I had suffered a cut over my eye in training, and when the cut reopened early in the fight, the game plan went out the window. I just wanted to get it over as quickly as possible."

Montiel said Morales (14-0, eight KOs) is a formidable challenger. The Filipino is coming off an eight-round unanimous decision over Miguel Gonzales on Nov. 21.

"I remember when I was coming up and I was hungry, just like Morales is," Montiel said. "I know he’s hungry to win a world title, and if he beats me, it changes his life forever. I don’t want to allow that to happen."

NOTES — Today’s 4 p.m. weigh-in at the Hilton’s Shimmer Ballroom is open to the public. … Saturday’s undercard features Filipino featherweight Bernabe Concepcion and Filipino welterweight Mark Melligen, undefeated Las Vegas super featherweight Diego Magdaleno, undefeated middleweight Matt Korobov and up-and-coming junior welterweight Jose Benavidez. … The card begins at 6 p.m.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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