By Ronnie Nathanielsz
WBO bantamweight interim champion Eric “Little hands of Steel” Morel (42-2, 21 KO’s) has turned down a challenge by WBA super flyweight interim champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (23-1, 15 KO’s) who offered to step in for the injured WBC super flyweight champion Jorge Arce and face Morel in a scheduled title fight on June 26.
Arce suffered a three-inch deep cut on his first day in sparring and doctors said he would need to take a two to three week break which made it impossible for him to be ready to fight Morel on June 26.
Initially, WBO Oriental bantamweight champion Michael Domingo through ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer had offered to replace Arce but there has been no indication on whether matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz had been able to communicate with Morel’s handlers and fight promoters Top Rank.
Donaire who is supposed to fight on the Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez – Bernabe Concepcion fight card in Puerto Rico on July 10 said he was prepared to face Morel on June 26 because he o wanted to avenge the loss of compatriot, Gerry Penalosa to Morel at the Las Vegas Hilton last February 13 in what was considered a somewhat controversial split decision.
Being under the Top Rank banner Donaire felt it would be simple to step in for Arce, who was injured during sparring days ago.
Donaire said "I think it'd be a great rivalry considering Gerry’s older brothers (former two division world champion Dodie Boy Penalosa and brother Jonathan Penalosa) are in my
Donaire said. Jonathon Penalosa was “visibly upset at the result of Pinoy Power 3 and shared the opinion of many that Gerry should have won that fight.”
Team Donaire claimed that according to Top Rank president Todd Debeouf the fight offer of Donaire was presented to Morel but he didn’t hesitate to turn it down. Morel reportedly said "he'd rather cancel the fight all together than step in the ring with Nonito Donaire."
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told us “Morel wouldn’t fight him (Donaire)” neither would he consider Domingo because Morel “wants to wait till Arce is ready to fight. But who knows.”
Donaire who is ranked No. 4 in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound roster said he couldn't believe the news since Morel was willing to fight Arce and not him.
A visibly frustrated Donaire who has been looking for worthy, name opponents since he knocked out Vic Darchinyan in the 5th round on July 7, 2007 to win the IBF and IBO flyweight titles exclaimed "Do I have to move up to welter weight to find some real fighters?"
However, Arum informed us late Wednesday from Las Vegas that he had lined up “knockout artist” Hernan “Tyson” Marquez (27-1, 20 KO’s) , the 21 year old Mexican to face Donaire on July 10 although the choice didn’t sit too well with Donaire who noted that Marquez lost a unanimous ten round decision to fellow Filipino Richie Mepranum on March 12 at the Gaylord Hotel in Dallas, Texas.