By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Dethroned WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire, who lost his title to former Cuban two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York on Saturday, plans to move up in weight and fight former WBO featherweight champion Juan Manuel "Juanma" Lopez
later this year.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard and ABS-CBN that Donaire "really struggled to make the weight and I think that took a little zip out of him and this kid Rigondeaux was awfully fast and awfully elusive."
Arum told us Donaire would "fight Lopez at 126 pounds in Puerto Rico towards the end of the year."
Noting that Donaire said he had a torn ligament in his right shoulder which his wife Rachel revealed was diagnosed sometime in February after Nonito felt some pain and he may have to undergo surgery. Arum indicated the fight date "depends on the operation."
He pointed out that Donaire "was not coming back until September anyway" because his wife Rachel is expecting their first child on July 21 and Donaire wanted to spend time with his newborn son and wife.
Southpaw Lopez is an aggressive fighter whose style would suit Donaire who likes to engage. "Juanma" won the WBO featherweight title from Steve Luevano who retired in the 7th round in his title defense on January 23, 2010 - but then lost to Mexico's rugged Orlando Salido by an 8th round TKO on April 16, 2011 before losing by a 10th round TKO in rematch on March 10 of last year.
Lopez had earlier successfully defended his super bantamweight title in a brutal battle with two division world champion Gerry Penalosa on April 25, 2009 when Penalosa was forced to retire by trainer Freddie Roach in the tenth round after a gallant stand while Bernabe Concepcion lost by a 2nd round TKO on July 10, 2010 after scoring a shock knockdown in the dying seconds of the opening round before being battered by Lopez in the second forcing the referee to call a halt.
The 29-year-old Lopez has a record of 32-2 with 29 knockouts.