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Donaire-Rigondeaux in April or Will Nonito Become Top Rank's Hothouse Flower?

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COMMENTARY | Hothouse Flower: A flower that isn't hardy enough to grow under natural conditions. It has to be pampered and grown in a greenhouse or hothouse...In regard to people it's used to describe someone who needs pampering or special conditions. (Courtesy:

It's obvious at this point that Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions has pegged Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) as the heir apparent to the Manny Pacquiaio empire, perhaps alongside a rebuilt, repackaged Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and a well-maneuvered Brandon Rios.

And Donaire would certainly be a perfect fit for next-level fame and cash cow status.

"The Filipino Flash" is supremely talented, well-spoken, and charismatic. He can also fight. Yahoo! Sports' 2012 Fighter of the Year had a stellar run last year with four good wins against overall solid opposition. There's little doubt that the 30-year-old three-division world champ could go on to clean out the junior featherweight division and continue his run all the way up to super featherweight, at the very least.

The thing is that the two biggest legacy-defining fights for him have yet to materialize--One against Abner Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs), the other against Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs).

Recently, several boxing websites ran with the story that Donaire vs. Rigondeaux was a "done deal" for April 27. However, upon further review, there is, indeed, reason to still be skeptical.

Promoter Bob Arum was the only source of this story and he chose to reveal this information to Ronnie Nathanielsz, a Philippines-based writer who has, in the past, been used as a message delivery system for Arum's promotional propaganda. Neither Donaire nor Rigondeaux have confirmed this match-up. And, as a matter of fact, Donaire is on record fairly recently as saying that a Rigondeaux fight was not in his immediate plans.

While this story certainly could be true, it could just as easily not be true. The Hall of Fame promoter has floated these types of stories to the public before, most notably in the case of Manny Pacquiao, who was linked to a Floyd Mayweather bout by Arum prior to his last six bouts, but never found himself even close to being pushed into a position to actually fight Mayweather. Skeptics would call this "bait and switch." Others might call it a smart way to keep fans on the hook while selling a lesser match-up for his fighter. Whatever the case, fans and media would be wise to wait until the actual contract signing before assuming that Donaire-Rigondeaux is on the agenda.

If, somehow, a Rigondeaux fight doesn't materialize, the question has to be asked whether Donaire will ever be allowed to truly prove himself against the very best in his weight range.

Back when Yuriorkis Gamboa was still a Top Rank fighter, a similar situation took place between the talented Cuban Olympic gold medalist and Puerto Rican breakthrough fighter, Juan Manuel Lopez.

Despite both featherweights fighting under the Top Rank banner and, apparently, reaching their physical primes at the exact same time, the logical Gamboa-Lopez match-up never happened. It was rumored, pre-sold, and hyped by everyone around them, but there was always an excuse not to fight. It was always "next" on the agenda.

That "next" would never come, though, as Lopez would be upset by Orlando Salido and Gamboa's relationship with Arum & company soured, eventually leading to a professional break-up.

In Donaire's case, there would be a lot more money involved in keeping Nonito as the next resident in the House that Manny Built. Arum would likely be extra cautious with him and, not unlike what's been happening up until now, match him against respectable, decent opposition with virtually no chance of beating him.

The tragic part of all of this is that Donaire could possibly beat Mares and Rigondeaux and would probably do quite well at featherweight as well. As a protected hothouse flower of Top Rank Promotions, though, he will never be allowed to truly affirm his greatness.

Hopefully, this time, Arum is on the level and he plans on matching his two world class junior featherweights against one another. The world deserves a chance to see Nonito Donaire shine. Nonito Donaire deserves it as well.


Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.


Ronnie Nathanielsz, Donaire vs. Rigondeaux on 4/27 in Vegas, Says Arum, Boxingscene

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