By Jake Donovan
The finishing touches have been placed for Nonito Donaire’s highly anticipated return to the ring as he faces Omar Narvaez on October 22 in The Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
Tickets go on sale Thursday, September 15 at 12:00PM ET, with prices set at $200, $100, $50 and $25, and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets.
The bout – which airs live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark series - marks Donaire’s first ring appearance since scoring a sensational second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel in their bantamweight title fight this past February. Donaire raced up the pound-for-pound rankings and was set for a major takeover in the lower weight classes, only for a contract dispute to result in a forced layoff.
All issues were resolved when Donaire renewed his deal with Top Rank Inc., with whom he originally signed in 2008.
In addition to fighting for the first time in eight months, Donaire – born in the Philippines but now living in California’s Bay Area - will also make his New York City debut, as well as his first trip back to the East Coast in nearly four years. The pound-for-pound entrant twice fought in Connecticut in a breakout 2007 campaign launched by his fifth round knockout of Vic Darchinyan.
Donaire (26-1, 18KO) hasn’t lost since his second pro fight, with a winning streak that has extended nine years and 25 fights. The aforementioned knockout win over Darchinyan announced his arrival as a major player, though it was his explosive performance against Montiel earlier this year that truly left the boxing world abuzz and confirmed his place as one of the sport’s very best in the world today.
Now he gets to take his talents to the marketing capital of the world, which has industry brass excited about the possibilities that can come of the opportunity.
"The electricity in New York fights is unlike any city. New York has long been the Mecca of boxing and when you are able to bring in one of the pound-for-pound greats, like Nonito Donaire, it is great for the sport and great for his development and marketability," said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank, who promotes the October 22 show.
The network housing the fight is equally as excited.
“Nonito Donaire is one of the sport’s most compelling prizefighters and we are thrilled to have him back on network,” said Kery Davis, senior vice president of HBO Sports. “Meeting undefeated Omar Narvaez in the venerable Theater at Madison Square Garden should make for an exciting night of television on HBO.”
The fight against Donaire is the opportunity of a lifetime for the 35-year old Narvaez. A long reigning flyweight titlist before moving up in weight last year to win a belt at super flyweight, Narvaez (35-0-2, 19KO) makes both his stateside and HBO-televised debut in an 11-year career largely spent in his native Argentina.
Narvaez’ credentials include a flyweight reign that spanned seven years and 16 defenses, though never managing to land largely sought after unification bouts with the likes of Darchinyan and lineal champion Pongsaklek Wongjonkam. In Donaire, Narvaez finally receives the opportunity to validate his credentials against one of the very best in the game.
For Donaire, the challenge – while a dangerous assignment – is another day in the office in regards to the level of competition he’s faced over the past four years. Donaire has always demanded more than what his handlers are accustomed to giving their fighters, and has raised his game as a result. The pound-for-pound talent has racked up 10 knockouts in his past 11 fights.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]
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