By Keith Idec
Jorge Arce and Toshiaki Nishioka have been the names mentioned most as the next foe for Nonito Donaire, but his manager is intrigued by the idea of Donaire facing another 122-pound opponent.
Cameron Dunkin and Top Rank president Todd duBoef have discussed the possibility of Donaire opposing Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in Puerto Rico, perhaps as early as January. Donaire (27-1, 18 KOs) wants to fight five times in 2012, which would require his first fight of the year to come earlier than the spring.
“Todd and I have been talking about it,” Dunkin said. “We’d like to get Vazquez Jr. We think that’d be a great fight. If Nonito can beat a guy like that, then that leads to Arce. It also leads to [Juan Manuel Lopez]. Even though [Donaire] fought in Puerto Rico against Tyson Marquez, this would give him more exposure in Puerto Rico and it would set up a fight with JuanMa somewhere down the round. We’re really hoping that we can do [Vazquez Jr.] next, in January or February.”
The criticism, of course, will stem from Mexico’s Jorge Arce (58-6-2, 45 KOs) beating Vazquez by 12th-round technical knockout to win the WBO super bantamweight title May 7 in Las Vegas. Though the plan to establish Donaire as an attraction in Puerto Rico makes sense, by boxing Arce, Donaire at least would fight for a world title in his debut at 122 pounds.
Regardless, Top Rank founder Bob Arum at some point wants to match Donaire against Arce, an entertaining character who has won world championships in four weight classes. He said following Donaire’s dull 12-round victory over Argentina’s Omar Narvaez (35-1-2, 19 KOs) on Saturday night in New York that he’d prefer the Filipino-born Donaire to square off against Arce in Manila, when a new 50,000-seat indoor arena opens there in June.
That plan hinged on Arum talking Japanese promoter Akihiko Honda into arranging a bout between Donaire and WBC super bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) in March. Nishioka out-pointed Mexico’s Rafael Marquez (40-7, 36 KOs) in a 12-rounder Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, though, and would like to take more time off between bouts.
“Honda said Nishioka is an older guy  and is going to need until May to fight,” Arum said. “So, in that case, I don’t want Donaire to wait until May, so we do a fight right after the first of the year with Donaire.”
That could create an opening for a Donaire-Vazquez fight.
“There are so many questions to be answered,” Dunkin said. “There’s that new arena in Manila that’s opening in June or July. Bob wants [Donaire] to be the first big event there, and that’s what they want, the people who run the arena in Manila. The question is could he fight before that? Could he fight Arce? Could he fight the Japanese guy? There are just so many variables.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.