By Lem Satterfield
It was 3:30 a.m. on Thursday in Alabang, Philippines, and the cellular telephone of Rachel Donaire had "been ringing off of the hook," said the wife of WBC and WBO bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire.
In America, where it was 3:30 p.m. East Coast time on Wednesday, Los Angeles-based Golden Boy Promotions had just issued a statement announcing that it had signed Nonito Donaire (26-1, 18 knockouts) away from Las Vegas-based rival Top Rank Promotions, citing a multi-year deal despite the assertion by Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum, that his contract with Donaire still is valid.
Although the contract with Top Rank official expires in June, Donaire had claimed that his relationship with Top Rank was invalid because the promoter had failed to satisify terms of their agreement, the sticking point being Donaire's assertion that the contract terms require Top Rank to provide him with three fights per year.
Arum, however, told BoxingScene.com that Donaire suffered injuries which prevented him from taking fights in the early part of his deal, and Top Rank recently exercised its option for a one year extension to push Donaire's promotional contract until at least June of 2012.
Pursuant to the contract terms, Arum believes Donaire's injuries will automatically extend his deal even further, until 2013.
A former WBA interim super flyweight titlist, Donaire scored his 25th straight victory and 10th stoppage in his past 12 fights with last month's second round knockout of then-WBO and WBC champion Fernando Montiel (44-3-2, 34 KOs) in Donaire's bantamweight debut.
In victory over the Montiel, Donaire vanquished a man who is among five Mexican fighters to have won world titles over the course of three divisions -- the others being WBA and WBO lightweight (135 pounds) titlist Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1, 38 KOs), Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (107-6-2, 86 KOs), Erik Morales (51-6, 35 KOs) and Marco Antonio Barrera (66-7, 43 KOs).
Donaire's clash with Montiel continued the rivalry begun by Philippines countryman, eight-division king, and, WBO welterweight titlist, Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), who has been nicknamed, "The Mexicutioner," for his dominance of fighters from that country.
Donaire walks around at 135 pounds and has been favorably compared by Arum to Pacquiao, whom Donaire said is, "definitely an inspiration in my career."
But Rachel Donaire said that part of their decision to leave Top Rank stems from their feeling that Nonito Donaire has been consistently upstaged by Pacquiao, and, as a result, overlooked.
In addtion, Donaire had hoped to secure potential unification bouts against the winner of an April 23 match up between unbeaten Mexican-born IBO and WBC silver belt king Abner Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs) and two-time IBF champion, Joseph Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs).
Mares, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, and Agbeko, who is promoted by Don King, are both in the Showtime bantamweight tournament.
Another major preference, said Rachel Donaire, were super bantamweight match ups such as those opposite Canadian southpaw IBF super bantamweight king Steve Molitor (33-1, 12 KOs), or WBO counter part Wilfredo Vazquez (20-0-1, 17 KOs), each of whom is promoted by Top Rank.
Instead, Arum offered southpaw WBA bantamweight king Anselmo Moreno (30-1-1, 10 KOs), to the frustration of the Donaires.
Rachel Donaire spoke to BoxingScene.com from the Philippines concerning her husband's exodus from Top Rank to Golden Boy Promotions.
BoxingScene.com: Are you aware that Golden Boy Promotions has announced here in America that Nonito Donaire has signed with Golden Boy?
Rachel Donaire: Yeah, my phones been ringing like crazy. It's been ringing off of the hook.
BoxingScene.com: What does this mean for Nonito Donaire and why did he make that decision?
Rachel Donaire: Well, Nonito still is sleeping, so he can't give you a statement. But basically boxing is a short life span, and, as I said, my phone is going off like crazy right now.
Nonito has given Top Rank two opportunities to promote his fights. The first time, they let him sit for a year and then Gary Shaw offered Nonito the fight with Vic Darchinyan.
This is the second time around. He stuck with whomever Bob Arum put in front of him. But we didn't feel like the competitors that he was facing were that great.
Nonito feels as though those opponents did their best, but he wishes that were all great competitors like Montiel. But, you know, I mean, they did what they could.
But it's been three years that we've been with Top Rank. So, apparently, if they can only take you so far. In three years, people get divorced.
You find things out in that time. You know, maybe we should have learned the first time when we sat the first time. So they've had three years, and their honeymoon stage is over in the first couple of months.
BoxingScene.com: So Nonito was not happy with the level of competition he was facing?
Rachel Donaire: Well, he wanted to face more people like Fernando Montiel, and Nonito believes that if he goes out and possibly does his own thing that there are better options for him.
BoxingScene.com: How many fights does your deal with Golden Boy Promotions encompass?
Rachel Donaire: Golden Boy is smart. The contract is confidential.
BoxingScene.com: What fights is Nonito Donaire going to pursue with Golden Boy Promotions?
Rachel Donaire: I think that one of Bob Arum's big mistakes was to say that the next fight was going to be against Anselmo Moreno. Bob Arum spoke, basically, without having secured the fight.
So, basically, Anselmo Moreno fell for it. So now, Moreno is overpricing himself for the fight. But the thing is that we don't know what the Showtime tournament is doing.
We don't know what the other bantamweights are doing. So when Bob Arum announced Anselmo Moreno as the next opponent, that's what pretty much shot himself in the foot.
It was like Moreno was the only person for us to fight. Which, is bull. If he wants to play that stupid game, well, we'll wait for the bantamweight tournament to be over or we'll fight as a super bantamweight.
It's not that big of a deal. Like, Moreno is not worth half a million [$500,000.] That's what he asking for, which is crazy. I mean, for him to even make $300,000 when Montiel only made $250,000. I mean, what is he thinking?
BoxingScene.com: How do you feel Nonito Donaire's stature has been affected by the fact that Manny Pacquiao is the top fighter in the Top Rank stable?
Rachel Donaire: The thing is that we needed to take chances. It was hard to get fights. At least, A-level fights with Manny Pacquiao making these huge dollar sign amounts.
I think whenever we had to discuss Nonito's fights, you know, it was kind of on the back burner for Nonito, like, whatever is left on the bone, that's what you have. But that's the energy they seemed to spend on him. But it wasn't like a really big priority for them to set Nonito up with really big fights.
I understand that Manny was fighting Oscar De La Hoya, and Juan Manuel Marquez, and super big, just enormous names. But at the same time, the reason why Nonito signed with Top Rank is that they had Manny.
And Top Rank was the one that really wanted Nonito. Coming from Gary Shaw, they really wanted Nonito. And they were like, 'What can we do to get him here?' We figured that because Bob Arum kept marketing him as the next Manny Pacquiao, that they would market him with Manny, you know what I mean?
But a simple thing like being on the same show on the undercard was not something that was done in the last three years. We didn't think that was that big of a thing to do.
That would have helped with the fan followings if Nonito had been on the same HBO cards as Manny. But, I mean, everything happens for a reason. And I think that Nonito needs to tell people, and to make it on his own. Even back here in the Philippines, they refer to Manny all of the time.
Now, Nonito is never going to be Manny, but Manny's also never going to be Nonito. That's just how it has to be. They grew up in different places and they can be respected as two different fighters.