COMMENTARY | "Filipino Flash," Nonito Donaire showed up in Carson, California as a two-belt titlist for last Saturday's junior featherweight bout with Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka, yet left the ring as a victorious one-belt champ.
The day before his HBO-televised title fight, Donaire opted to relinquish his IBF title and only defend the WBO strap, thereby separating the belts that he had unified last July with a victory over then-IBF titlist, Jeffrey Mathebula.
Up until recently, the vague reason behind this decision involved Team Donaire's refusal to face the winner of the IBF mandated eliminator between South African Takalani Ndlovu and Mexican Alejandro Lopez. Donaire's team made the assessment, and perhaps rightly so, that a bout with the winner of Ndlovu-Lopez would not be particularly interesting or marketable.
Earlier today, though, the four-division world champ used his official Facebook account to further explain all of the reasoning behind his decision to vacate.
"Let me clarify the IBF situation," Donaire wrote. "At weigh-in I was informed Id be stripped of my IBF if I didn't defend it within 90 days vs their Mandatory. In addition, they were charging me $42,000 for a belt I never received. Yep, u heard that right....I never got my IBF belt. The belt I walked in with was my 112lb belt from [Vic] Darchinyan. So instead of getting stripped, I relinquished it."
So, faced with the prospect of paying a sanctioning fee on a belt he had yet to receive and one he would be forced to defend against an unappealing opponent, he gave it up.
Often, fighters take the blame for the fact that few titles get unified or stay unified these days. But, the truth of the matter is that sanctioning bodies, with their arbitrary and often ridiculous political decisions, have created an environment that is increasingly keeping the titles apart. Ndlovu and Lopez are solid fighters, but nobody who knows anything about the sport sees either as a top challenger for a star like Donaire at this point.
The Filipino-American champ should be on to bigger and better things. Any organization he represents as champion should be willing to allow the big bouts to happen while creating legitimate top challengers via a series of quality bouts among their top 10 fighters.
Unfortunately, promoter Bob Arum has indicated a desire to match Donaire up against Mexico's Jorge Arce in a December contest likely to be an ugly, albeit entertaining, mismatch. Fans would've preferred Abner Mares or Guillermo Rigondeaux next, but it appears as though neither fighter is really on Team Donaire's radar at the moment.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and a close follower of the sport for more than 30 years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Nonito Donaire's Official Facebook Page