COMMENTARY | Ever since "The Filipino Flash" Nonito Donaire became good enough to fight the very best, it seems as though his interest in doing so has waned.
2012 was a banner year for the talented and charismatic junior featherweight world titlist. The pound-for-pound star would score solid wins over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka, and Jorge Arce en route to Fighter of the Year honors and undisputed status as 122 lb. kingpin.
But as good as last year was, 2013 was supposed to be the year where Donaire would ascend to the elite spot reserved for names like Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Abner Mares and Guillermo Rigondeaux, the recognized second and third best junior featherweights, were on deck and these wins would be the ones to truly define Donaire's legacy as an elite-level fighter. Donaire's resume to date has been very solid, but nothing out of the ordinary and nothing really above and beyond what's expected of a star with at least six good years of mega-hype behind him.
If Nonito were to affirm his status as "the next big thing" and a fighter worthy of comparisons to the likes of Roy Jones Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, he would have to step up his game even further. Wins over South African paper champions and past-his-prime one-dimensional Mexican battlers wouldn't be enough. 2013 would have to be the year he beats a prime, elite-level fighter in his own division.
Abner Mares worked diligently to get the call from Team Donaire, but after weeks of back-and-forth online exchanges and media reports, it became obvious that the 27-year-old WBC junior featherweight champ was never really in the running.
A $3 million offer from Mares' promoter, Golden Boy, was at first denied and then, after the actual contract was made public, dismissed by Donaire's team. In any case, as Top Rank said, Donaire was already contracted to fight WBA champ Guillermo Rigondeaux in April.
The Cuban, Rigondeaux, is older than Mares, less tested as a pro, and in possession of a vulnerable chin. Most importantly, though, is that Rigondeaux is a Top Rank stablemate of Donaire, which means that Bob Arum is guaranteed to leave the arena with the winner, no matter what happens.
However, despite a media blitz to announce the fight, Donaire-Rigondeaux has hit a rough patch, bad enough for Donaire to bring up the possibility of pulling out.
The issue concerns random blood testing under the supervision of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) and Donaire's insistence that Rigondeaux undergo the same testing to which he has submitted himself.
Donaire has made several claims against Rigondeaux and has accused the fighter of purposely withholding contact information and addresses in order to prevent VADA from conducting random testing. Via Boxingscene/The Manila Standard, Donaire even went so far as to accuse the two-time Olympic gold medalist of working with Angel Heredia, the convicted PEDs distributor who now works as a strength and conditioning coach for the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez and Jorge Arce.
"I won't stand for anybody who mocks boxing or mocks testing," Donaire said. "If they don't...give us his whereabouts we are pulling out. I don't need them this is my date. [We have given Rigondeaux] so many opportunities to make this fight happen."
Donaire also made it clear that his immediate plans would be to "go to Top Rank and HBO and to tell them, give us another fighter. I don't care who it is. They are playing too many games. They don't want to fight."
In response, Ridondeaux's co-promoter, Boris Arencibia of Caribe Promotions, seemed perplexed by the all-out media attacks on his fighter.
"We still have no idea what's going on with Nonito Donaire's team," Arencibia told Boxingscene. "Every day we read something about VADA tests and ultimately we do not know what they intend to accomplish with this attitude. Guillermo Rigondeaux already signed, in front of Bob Arum and everyone else, all of these VADA documents and met the requirements of this organization."
Arencibia would go on to deny the accusation that his fighter is working with Angel Heredia and provide a document proving that Team Rigondeaux had, indeed, provided VADA with complete contact information for their testing efforts.
So, once again, Donaire seems to have gone public with incorrect information quickly refuted by the other side. Could this be a case of Nonito being poorly informed by his own team or is someone, somewhere trying to intentionally sabotage this bout from within?
The latter possibility could've been seen as pure fantasy, had we not witnessed the exact same sequence of events take place to bury the Mares bout.
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.
- Sports & Recreation
- Nonito Donaire
- Guillermo Rigondeaux
- Abner Mares
- Jorge Arce