by David P. Greisman
Nonito Donaire could be back on primetime HBO again soon.
He appeared on the network twice in 2011, with a big technical knockout win over Fernando Montiel followed by a shutout decision over Omar Narvaez. Then came the 2012 campaign that got him “Fighter of the Year” honors, and all four fights again were on HBO: wins over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce.
He still appeared on HBO for both of his bouts in 2013, but one was a loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux, and the other was a stoppage win in his rematch with Vic Darchinyan in which Donaire was behind on the scorecards before getting the victory.
His most recent appearance, a cut-shortened technical decision win over featherweight titleholder Simpiwe Vetyeka, took place in Macau, China, and was aired on tape-delay on HBO2 on the afternoon of May 31.
“One thing that was good is that although HBO played the fight in the afternoon on delay, it did an incredible audience — 435,000 viewers in the afternoon,” Arum told BoxingScene.com on June 6. “So HBO, we had a meeting with them yesterday and discussed Nonito, among other things. And they want Nonito to be back on the network in primetime in the fall in October or November.”
He added later: “Our original plan was to have him fight in Macau or in Singapore. But now we would shift it back into the United States.”
There are at least a few opponents that come to mind: a rematch with Vetyeka; a bout with Top Rank’s Nicholas Walters, who holds the “regular” World Boxing Association belt while Donaire now holds the “super” one; or another Top Rank 126-pound titleholder, Evgeny Gradovich, who won on the same card.
“We’ll discuss with Nonito and Cameron Dunkin, the manager, who the next opponent is,” Arum said. “We have so many quality featherweights now that we can mix and match: Gradovich came through in his fight, and this Walters, I mean I can’t believe what I was watching. He touches the guy [Darchinyan] and he goes down. George Foreman’s kid was there, and he said that even though he’s a little guy, Walters, a featherweight, ‘He hits like my father.’ ”
Arum said he didn’t have a preferred opponent:
“I just want to do quality fights in the ring,” he said, “and a fight against any of these guys is a quality fight.”
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