Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Nonito Donaire Just Wants The Right Opportunity And It Is Coming
By Rich Mancuso
Maybe Nonito Donaire needed the deserved attention last week when he appeared in New York City with Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. He will defend his bantamweight title, at the WAMU Theatre at Madison Square Garden, against undefeated Argentinean champion Omar Narvaez October 22. It is the Garden, not the main arena, but a huge fight for Donaire who will make his debut on the east coast.
The task ahead is to defeat Narvaez, undefeated in 35 fights with two draws. It won’t be easy. “I need to be at my best and train hard for this fight,” said Donaire last week at a New York press conference where Cotto and Margarito were showcased on their media tour to promote their upcoming battle at the Garden on December 3rd. “it is definitely something I have to take seriously,” he said.
The boxing world took notice of Donaire in February when he knocked out Fernando Montiel in the second round for the title. After that there were contract issues that made news. Top Rank and Golden Boy promotions were in a legal battle for his contract. Golden Boy said they had his rights and in the end Bob Arum won the fight. With that over, Donaire was ready to continue a journey that he hopes will eventually, but not top, Manny Pacquiao. The connection is Donaire and Pacquiao are two champions from the Philippines.
“I am happy to be with Top Rank,” he says. “I don’t want to be compared to Pacquiao. He has done great things for the sport of boxing. We are two different people. I respect what he has done. I want to fight the best.” Donaire, after his fight in New York has expressed an interest in moving up the ladder. There are plans to fight at 126, possibly looking at taking on current featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Arum has envisioned Donaire to be in the marketing plan at Top Rank. Showcasing the 28-year old southpaw in New York City is a start. There is a large contingent of Filipino boxing fans in New York, and exposure fighting at the Garden, known as The Mecca, will only help his cause. “Great to show my talents to the many Filipinos in the New York area,” he said about his bout that will be televised on HBO.
But will Donaire be able to take on Gamboa, if indeed this is the last fight at bantamweight? He was not included in the Showtime tournament that has become the Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko show. He could not wait for the opportunity to fight Mares, so it was his decision to move on. “I want to fight the best out there and if it is not at 122 it can be 126,” he says.
Arum could care less where Donaire decides to go. He has always envisioned his fighter to be marketable and moving up in weight could lead to pay-per-view fights. Arum was asked about an eventual meeting of Donaire opposing Gamboa. As expected there was no definite answer, and if that fight happens it all depends on what occurs at the Garden. And Gamboa has expressed an interest of fighting as a junior lightweight, but that should not deter Doinaire.
“I don’t want to look ahead,” he says, “but for me I want to fight the best out there. Gamboa said he is moving up in weight but is willing to move down to fight me. I will be glad for boxing if we can get the best fights. I am all about that. I want to be the best. It will be an amazing fight if Gamboa wants to face me.”
To which Arum commented, “Right now Gamboa has a plan. It is still too early to be talking about a Donaire-Gamboa fight. Look anything can happen between now and then. Right now Ninito is focused on fighting in New York City. This will be a great fight with Narvaez. The talents of Nonito will be seen and what better way to do that than at Madison Square Garden.”
But Arum missed a golden opportunity in the past year. A mega fight that would have showcased two of the top featherweights, Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez was in the plans, and the possible venue was New York City. Lopez would lose his title and Gamboa continued his title reign so that fight never happened. Now, with Donaire looking for the bigger opportunity, Arum may get some redemption and have a bigger fight if Gamboa and Donaire meet.
“I want to make that statement that Nonito is to be feared,” he says. Donaire has the speed and power to resemble Pacquiao at times. However, as proud as he is about his heritage, Donaire does not want to be compared to the welterweight champion. “We are two different people, two different fighters,” he says The boxing fan has decided they are two different fighters, and the Filipino community has not caught on with him as they are so immersed with the exploits of Pacquiao.
Bu that could start to change once Pacquiao decides to hang up the gloves. Donaire may just be getting started, and the right place is fighting at Madison Square Garden in New York City even if it is not before 19,000 fans. The Theatre seats a little over 5,500, but the exposure and fighting a world class fighter will help his cause.
“I am given the opportunity and I have to present myself,” says Donaire. Defeating Montiel was a first step, settling the promotional contract was another, and now New York City awaits him.
Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com